It seems the best way to get a decision is to log some air miles. It worked for the Vikings, and it worked for Rex Ryan.
It’s easy to imagine Rex Ryan the coach. We see it every week, and we’ve seen him up close and personal during Hard Knocks. His profanity-laced, beer gut style is now legendary, and it works on the football field. But could it work for contract negotiations too? Just ask Darrelle Revis.
A week before the Jets–a team widely expected to contend for the Super Bowl this year–were prepared to open their season without their All-Pro cornerback, Ryan flew down to Florida to meet with Revis. Flanked by team owner Woody Johnson, Ryan touched down in South Florida Saturday to meet with Revis and his mother Diana Gilbert. Revis’ uncle Sean Gilbert, a former defensive lineman who once sat out an entire season, was also present.
Ryan has a close, intimate bond with Revis, a relationship strong enough to finally coax the 25-year-old into signing the contract which gives him the reward he wanted–a mountain of guaranteed money.
When his 36 day holdout began, Revis and his representatives firmly dug their feet into the sand. Revis was coming off a breakout season, and he had no intention of playing under his rookie contract, especially not when the Jets had publicly stated their intention to pay New York’s newest defensive star. Revis would have earned a paltry $1 million this year under his rookie contract.
Revis wanted to be seen as the more than just the league’s top cornerback. He wanted the monetary title too. In this sport filled to the brim with attitude and bravado, Revis’ ploy was the ultimate one-upmanship. The target was Raiders’ cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who signed a three-year, $45.3 million deal in 2009. One dollar more than Asomugha, and Revis was satisfied in his quest to become the league’s highest paid cornerback.
In the end it was a quest that fell short. Revis didn’t quite surpass Asomugha, but he received the guaranteed money he wanted. According to the New York Daily News, Revis signed a four-year contract worth $46 million, $32 million of which is guaranteed. The deal was officially announced to the media by Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum during a conference call early Monday morning.
The term of the contract is far less than the reported 10-year deals being tossed around earlier in the negotiating process. Guaranteed money was the sticking point, and during the back and forth Revis’ agents reportedly asked for nearly $40 million of the contract to be guaranteed.
Given the mudslinging, gag orders, and rampant rumours, it seemed fitting for this holdout to end under the cloak of darkness. It’s as if Gotham’s hero has suddenly returned, and in a matter of hours when the sun rises, so do the Super Bowl hopes of a city and a starving fanbase.
If only it was really that poetic. Revis will make his grand re-entrance sometime Monday, with the Daily News reporting that he’ll fly to New Jersey to formally sign the new deal, bringing closure to the contract tug-of-war.
Now comes the hard part: winning games. There’s been a bandwagon effect following the Jets ever since their Cinderella run to the AFC Championship last season. It’s easy to forget that had the Colts played their starters in Week 16, the Jets’ playoff misery likely would have continued.
The defence without Revis was still one of the league’s elite units, and with him it’s clearly even better. But if you want to lead the league in f@$%#ing wins, touchdowns are a pretty essential part of the equation. A sophomore quarterback in Mark Sanchez who struggled throughout the preseason–completing 18 of his 31 pass attempts–could be the anchor on this team that’s ready to lift off if he doesn’t mature in a hurry.
No, let’s not crown their ass just yet. Besides, Revis is overrated, and nothing sets a team up for failure quite like a star holdout being a magnet for attention. Combine that with an overzealous coach whose idea of leadership is to heap expectations onto a team that hasn’t won anything yet, and it could be another cold winter in New York.