In Houston, Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson apparently wants a new contract because he doesn’t like the long-term veteran deal he signed in 2007, with two years left on his rookie contract. He doesn’t deserve one.
New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis falls into a gray area. On one hand, he received a landmark contract as the 14th overall pick in 2007. Three years in, he has the ability after 2010 to void the last two years of the deal. Then, the Jets can buy back years five and six at guaranteed salaries of $5 million in 2011 and a whopping $15 million in 2012.
So, basically, Revis has no basis to be complaining.
On the other hand, when it comes to the player’s abilities, Jets coach Rex Ryan has thrown more bouquets than Larry King. Ryan publicly has said that Revis is the NFL’s best defensive player; privately, Ryan will concede that Revis is the best player Ryan ever has coached — and he has coached the likes of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Chris McAlister, Deion Sanders and Terrell Suggs.
To make a delicate situation even dicier, Revis believes the team has promised to rip up his deal and replace it with a contract that pays him commensurately with his skills. So even though Revis doesn’t have the leverage typically needed to get the kind of package that pushes the market to a new level because he has three years left on his contract, the Jets apparently have done enough to justify Revis expecting to get at least as much as Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who averages north of $15 million per season.
The fact that Revis bolted voluntary workouts after participating in them for all of the offseason suggests that he previously was willing to be patient, but then his patience has expired, presumably because of a lack of progress. Moving forward, the question becomes whether he would hold out, either from an upcoming mandatory minicamp or training camp.
His agents, Neil Schwartz and Jonathan Feinsod, haven’t been bashful about taking a stand. Last year, Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White — who also is represented by Schwartz and Feinsod — boycotted training camp until he got paid.
As a rookie, Revis held out nearly three weeks before getting his unconventional contract that goes from six years to four back to six, with a huge back-end payout.
But Revis might not have that option in 2010. Three years ago, I got my hands on a copy of his much-thicker-than-usual contract. (Since then, it has done a nice job of keeping the door to my office propped open.) The deal contains language that arguably allows the Jets to void the guaranteed nature of the money paid in 2011 and 2012, after the team exercises the buy-back, if Revis fails to show up for any mandatory practice or team function. That’s not a huge deal given the quality of his play to date, but Revis would be taking a risk by giving up the guarantees.
So maybe he’ll show up for mandatory minicamp and training camp. Maybe he won’t. The future would be much easier to predict if the Jets would simply work out a new contract with the player about whom the team doesn’t hesitate to gush.
Some league insiders suspect that the reluctance to pay Revis or other home-grown players traces directly to the top of the organization. Thus, at a time when owner Woody Johnson wants fans to make the long-term commitment that comes from buying high-priced personal seat licenses, his case for loyalty from the paying customers could significantly be aided by a show of loyalty to the players who have helped make the team more competitive than it’s been in years.
And Johnson probably should start with Revis, the player who deserves it the most, especially if it’s been promised to him.