Surprising no one, Jets training camp opened this weekend minus cornerback Darrelle Revis, inarguably the most important player on the team. Without Revis, the Jets’ defense is above average; with him, it is dominant, and the team is a Super Bowl contender. Everyone knows this. But Revis has outplayed his contract — something the Jets have explicitly acknowledged to him — and wants more guaranteed money. The Jets, despite their off-season splurge, don’t want to give it to him. And suddenly, “Hard Knocks” has its first plotline.
Owner Woody Johnson is the one who doesn’t want to pony up. (General manager Mike Tannenbaum has to be the company guy, but it’s clear he’d love to give Revis the money and get him in camp.) With an NFL lockout looming, Revis wants his guaranteed money in signing bonus; he wants it upfront, and he wants to be assured he won’t get lost in the labor shuffle.
On one hand, Revis is signed to a contract already; it’s not like he’s a free agent who can go anywhere else. If the Jets refuse to renegotiate, he just won’t play (and won’t get paid) this season. You can sense why Johnson would be hesitant to shell out a signing bonus, one that might cover several years, years that might not even be played. (This lockout business is quite scary.) On the other hand, Revis has certainly earned a pay upgrade; he’s the most valuable guy on the team. Even more, the Jets told him they would get him more money upfront after the Pro Bowl. He just wants to hold them to it.
Perhaps the Jets’ eyes were a bit bigger than their stomach back in February; perhaps they weren’t taking the upcoming labor nuclear winter as seriously as they should have. But Revis won’t come in with a new contract and some upfront money. For a while, this seemed like a misunderstanding that would be settled once the season approached. It no longer seems like that. This might be a while.