New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is just getting started on the most convoluted holdout in NFL history. He wants more money than the $1 million for 2010 written into his contract, and the Jets want to pay him more money, but then it gets complicated.
How complicated? Well, it's like this: If Revis' holdout were a math equation, it would require that dude Pythagoras to figure it out. But he's dead, so you're left with me. And this is the best I can do:
|Darrelle Revis needs to be paid like the best cover corner since Deion Sanders. (Getty Images)|
Oh, and put all of that in parenthesis, and then square it or cube it. Do something drastic to it, because there's another variable involved, a known variable, which we'll call 'XLV.' As in, the Super Bowl set for February.
Which the Jets could be playing in.
But only if they get Darrelle Revis to end his holdout.
How this holdout plays out from here, I have no idea. How it should play out, I have no idea. All I know is this: The Jets are screwed.
And frankly, I like it.
Nothing against the Jets. You ask me, the perfect matchup of Super Bowl XLV in Dallas would be the Jets and Cowboys. That would be the most hyped Super Bowl of all-time, which is a crazy sentence to write -- it's like saying, "so-and-so is the least talented Kardashian" -- but which is undoubtedly true. America's Team in a Super Bowl, in its new $1.2 billion stadium, against the J-E-T-S? Insanity. Please let it happen. Please.
But for the Jets to hold up their end of the bargain, Revis has to get into camp, and he has to get there in time to be a major factor for a regular-season that begins in 34 days. In the meantime, he's being fined $16,523 a day. So at the moment, the Jets are sticking it to Revis.
Soon, I hope, he'll stick it to them. And again, nothing against the Jets. My problem isn't with the Jets. My problem is with an NFL system that leaves so many of its players crippled, brain-damaged husks -- picture an empty locust shell, clinging to a tree -- who lack the money to pay for medical care as they grow older.
So when an NFL player gets the rare chance to call his shot, I'm all for it -- and Revis is Babe Ruth. He was the NFL's most dominant defensive player last season, and considering he just turned 25 in July, he'll be that player again this season. Some day he'll get older. For now, he's getting better.
And everything the Jets do on defense -- from the way they attack the quarterback to the way they roll their safeties to the other side -- starts with the security that nothing bad will happen on Revis' half of the field. He's the best cover cornerback since Deion Sanders.
But he's not the highest-paid cornerback, or close to it. The Jets want to rectify that situation, but only to a point. They're not playing hardball with Revis by pointing out he has three years left on his contract or by pointing out that his contract calls for enormous raises in 2011 (to $5 million) and 2012 ($15 million). They understand that, at $1 million for the 2010 season, Revis is the most underpaid player in football.
But Revis doesn't want just a raise. He wants Nnamdi Asomugha money, plus a little bit more.
And this is where Al Davis, subtle as a whoopee cushion, enters the picture.
Davis is the deranged owner of the Raiders, a guy so far past his prime that he can't even remember those days, and he's throwing around money like lollypops. After making Shane Lechler the highest-paid punter ever, Davis gave Asomugha the biggest contract in NFL history -- $15.1 million per year over three years. That's the financial starting point for Revis. He's the best cornerback in the NFL, and he wants to be paid accordingly.
Most of the time, Al Davis or not, I'd tell you Revis has no chance at that kind of money. Davis skewed the NFL salary structure the way Scott Boras did it to baseball, only Davis skewed the system against his own side. The man's in over his head, and everyone knows it, so usually I'd tell you that the Jets figure to be insulated from Davis' disorientation.
But Revis is in a unique bargaining position. He's playing poker with guys whose hands he's already seen, and his best bargaining chips don't come from his agent. They come from the Jets themselves, three of them to be precise:
One, the Jets made D'Brickashaw Ferguson the highest-paid tackle in football history with $34 million guaranteed. Ferguson plays a premium position, and he's very good, but that's all he is: very good. Ferguson is a B-plus student, but Revis plays a premium position, too -- and he's the class valedictorian.
Two, the Jets recently extended the contracts of coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum. So everyone in the organization is getting paid these days.
Three, Ryan repeatedly undercuts his team's bargaining position by saying Revis isn't simply the best cornerback in football -- Ryan calls him the best defensive player in football.
All three of those things -- Ferguson's windfall, the new deals for the coach and GM, the praise by Ryan -- have happened in the last month. It's the perfect storm of financial fail for the Jets, and Darrelle Revis is about to make it rain.