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Looming Revis contract battle could become larger part of Jets drama

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A Darrelle Revis holdout could add another ring to another Jets training-camp circus. (US Presswire)  
A Darrelle Revis holdout could add another ring to another Jets training-camp circus. (US Presswire)  

I'm not advising Darrelle Revis to hold out. And at this point it seems as if he's leaning against it.

But should he eventually decide to dip out of Jets camp for some period of time, it would be anything but a shocker. Some coaches there are already bracing for as much. And, holdout or not, his long-term contractual status is anything but secure. More negotiations, and drama, loom, and Revis is only one potential sideshow the team's front office must navigate in what could be a trying season. After back-to-back AFC championship game appearances, plenty of Super Bowl boasts and last year's on-field and locker-room meltdown, this team will remain the focus of national attention win, lose or draw.

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That chaotic backdrop, and the hot seat threatening to engulf the team's brass, creates a climate conducive to exerting leverage via an absence, regardless of how recently Revis last opted out of camp. The Jets seem vulnerable in that regard, and when their best player, and arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, is unhappy and openly threatening to skip out on the start of camp, it only heightens tensions.

After watching Mark Sanchez be rewarded for his worst season by getting about $20 million guaranteed, then seeing owner Woody Johnson spend about $2.5 million simply for the right to trade for Tim Tebow, and seeing Santonio Holmes set to make $7.75 million guaranteed this season despite his outbursts and antics, well, a certain part of me could see why Revis has at least considered raising the ante by staying out of the impending circus at Cortland, N.Y., for a while.

If you want to make an argument for a Revis holdout, well, here goes:

Two years ago, when these sides last went down this road, and Revis missed out on the start of camp and there were midnight meetings at diners and all that Hard Knocks intrigue, well, that was just a Band-Aid. Yeah, it was a $46 million Band-Aid, but a Band-Aid no less. It was a bridge of likely three years, but not necessarily three years, constructed to get Revis into camp but wasn't the ultimate solution. It wasn't the deal that might make Revis a Jet for life -- not even close. And it bought the team a window to try to win in the short-term, but it wasn't anything close to the blockbuster that would bind the world's premier shutdown corner to his employer without incident deep into his career.

Sure, on paper it's a four-year deal, but you'd have to be pretty naive to think Revis would be playing for $6 million in 2013. Even the Jets know that ain't happening. It was a stopgap measure. The question, as could only eventually be answered by Revis, was how many years did it buy the Jets?

With Revis set to make $7.5 million this season, which would give him $40 million over the first three years of the deal, I'd contend it bought the Jets three years. But that's not guaranteed, and this clearly is a player who will skip camp if he feels strongly.

So, would the time for a holdout, sans a new deal, be more like a year from now? Yes. But after the Jets already blinked once, and given the pressure cooker engulfing coach Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum, a holdout could be a persuasive and very lucrative tactic. At a time when Mario Williams makes $16 million a season, Richard Seymour makes $15 million a year and Julius Peppers makes $14 million a year, is Revis, at $11.5 million per year, a relative steal? Yes.

Now, you could make the reverse argument that Peppers and Williams were unrestricted free agents when they got paid, and thus in a different situation, making this an apples-to-oranges comparison. And you could make the case that Revis took home $25 million in 2011, and averages $13.3 million over the first three years of his extension, so he has nothing to complain about. And it's all valid.

But this is high-stakes poker, and Antonio Cromartie has been very inconsistent opposite Revis at corner. And if this aging defense is going to carry this team back to the playoffs, still without an abundance of pass-rushing options, Revis must carry the unit. He knows this. His import is massive.

Considering the Jets' quarterback, right tackle, top receiver and running back all are under fire, there's even more reason to think Revis is holding a decent hand. He could peek at next year's cap situation -- the Jets have the second-least projected 2013 cap space in the league as it stands now -- and maybe see a team even more potentially on the brink. In a game with such a high injury risk and such a short shelf life, it may sound selfish, but this is the business. And don't kid yourself and think teams aren't just as cold, calculated and cunning when it comes to such matters.

And if/when Revis does report, because if he did skip out for a while I can't see him missing game checks, don't pretend for a minute this is over. It's only just beginning. Revis, through his pointed comments during offseason work, has made it clear he isn't thrilled these days. That will hang over the team this season, and if the tenor of this season mirrors that of 2011, expect plenty of back page stories about this contract.

Revis would become the 2013 offseason issue for the Jets, at a time when they might be searching for a new coach or GM and/or quarterback as well. And another year removed from that big 2011 payout, the prospect of playing 2013 for less money than a bevy of lesser corners will seem even less attractive to him. So no matter how much you may think Revis has already earned, or how big of a Jets fan you may be, don't be surprised if this contract is torn up soon enough.

I suspect that day comes sometime 6-9 months from now, and without another holdout. But then again, I wouldn't bet my paycheck on it.


Before joining CBS Sports, Jason La Canfora was the Washington Redskins beat writer for The Washington Post for six years and served as NFL Network's insider. The Baltimore native can be seen every Sunday during the season on The NFL Today.
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