Do I want to write an entire post about the Jets? Not really, but it’s football season. Or, it’s almost football season. The good news out of Philly in today’s paper was that the Eagles defense was no longer baiting Kevin Kolb into throwing picks “at will.” Good times. High times. The only story that is really worthy of national attention is Darelle Revis’ hold out in New York. It helps a bit that the Jets are a team who was already in the spotlight to a certain extent. For all the jokes I make at Rex Ryan’s expense, he came in last year and did a nice job. He reintroduced the world to defense and the running game. It was a concept so foreign to most, that the Jets were completely discounted as contenders in the AFC.
Their surprising run, along with some off-season moves, had them looking like a team that was organizing to make a run this year. I’m retaining my skepticism on that issue. I just can’t be completely sold on Mark Sanchez, not yet, but the Jets are probably much more likely to survive another mediocre year from Sanchez than they are the loss of the player that makes their defense something unique in the league. Darelle Revis is holding out, and with both sides talking tough, a resolution doesn’t appear to be near. I don’t want to discuss the impact of this on the Jets necessarily, just wondering what people’s stances are on the whole process of holding out. In some ways it feels like choosing between the lesser of two evils.
In a lot of these holdout cases, I look to see who has the hammer. The front office always has the contract on their side, but there are cases when a player can gain some leverage. No team wants to be known as a franchise that doesn’t take care of their players, and so when a guy like Darrelle Revis outperforms his level of compensation there is often a chance to get some kind of deal done. Something else quickly that strikes me when looking at NFL holdouts: It’s just another reminder that the MLB players association has it all over the NFL guys. If this were baseball, Revis would be getting set to make a mint in salary arbitration. In football, a player holding out is often the only tool they have in the renegotiation process.
Getting back to who has the upper hand, I would say this is an odd case in that both sides probably feel they have the advantage. The Jets have Revis signed, he’s not going anywhere, so he’d be giving up a year of his prime if he didn’t play in 2010. Not only that, with the lockout looming, it stands to reason that Revis would want to make some money this year. Is Revis prepared to wait for his money until 2012? I’m sure the Jets don’t think he is. On the other hand, Revis can use the looming lockout to his advantage as well. The Jets are obviously making a push for a Super Bowl. This is the only year that’s guaranteed at this point. The 2010 season could easily be the high point of this Jets core. Are they willing to risk tackling this season without Revis holding down one of the corners?
It’s hard to sift through all the talk in this case right now. The Jets are acting as if they are ready to move on without Revis. Their owner, Woody Johnson (his actual name), said he didn’t expect to see Revis play for the Jets this year. This is most likely posturing, and Revis’ current contract demands are probably a good bit north of what he’d ultimately accept, but for now the two sides seem quite far apart. My gut feeling in these situations is that a deal will almost always get done. The animosity in this case, though, seems more intense and the stakes seem a little higher than usual. It makes me wonder which side should get my support?
In most cases I’d probably side with the owners in cases like this. Obviously at some point Revis was content with his current contract and now suddenly he is not. I also don’t think there have been many cases where a sports superstar has been vastly underpaid for his entire career. At some point, Revis will likely end up being overpaid. I also don’t like to side with agents in any way. The way they do business, often sticking guys in these bad contracts, making promises, taking on new clients and advising them to hold out, it’s all a nightmare. It’s not the purest side of the game. So, if you have a deal, I almost always think you should play, but the NFL does have its frightfully short careers and Revis has been a bargain since the day he walked through the door. Because this might be Darelle’s one chance to strike it rich with a contract, especially before a new CBA, I think I’d side with him this time around, as long as his demands aren’t too outrageous. After all, the guy’s a corner, and I’ve never heard, “Corners win championships.”
Who do you think should give in?