Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Revis vs. the Jets: Who's right?

The Darrelle Revis contract situation has been the biggest story of training camp so far, and with good reason. When the best player on one of the league's best teams (at least on paper) is out of the lineup with just a month to go until the regular-season opener, it's a big deal.

Jets owner Woody Johnson was recently quoted as saying he didn't expect Revis to play this season and coach Rex Ryan said the team would be fine without him. While Johnson's statement seems to have some truth to it at the moment, Ryan's stance is beyond absurd.

Ryan has already made a name for himself through previous blasphemy (because we all know the Jets really were the team to beat in last year's AFC playoffs, right?). But saying that the Jets would be fine without their best player is laughable.

Without Revis, the Jets' top corner would be the recently-acquired Antonio Cromartie. The same Antonio Cromartie who has struggled against some of the league's top wide receivers since his Pro Bowl 2007 season. That would leave second-year player Dwight Lowery and rookie Kyle Wilson to battle for the second corner spot and a position of strength for the Jets would turn to one of weakness rather quickly.

In the season's first three weeks, the Jets will face the Ravens, Patriots and Dolphins, all teams with legitimate number-one receivers (Anquan Boldin, Randy Moss and Brandon Marshall). They also get Sisdney Rice and the Vikings, Greg Jennings and the Packers, Calvin Johnson and the Lions, Andre Johnson and the Texans and Chad Ochocinco (or Terrell Owens) and the Bengals, not to mention Moss and Marshall one more time for good measure.

We all know the Jets love to bring the blitz and force opposing quarterback into quick decisions. With Revis manning down what has become known as "Revis Island," quarterbacks who would normally look to their top target in the face of quick pressure have to find another option, because no receiver has proven they can consistently get open against Revis in 3-4 seconds.

Without Revis, the Jets' all-out blitzing packages become significantly less effective. The team would go from having arguably the league's best defense to one that sits barely inside the top 10 at best. New York simply doesn't have the defensive line to pressure the quarterback without blitzing multiple players from their back eight.

But the real question in this situation is: Who's right? What better way to look at it than by taking both sides.

The Jets side:
New York is offering Revis a 10-year, $120 million deal, about $40 million less than Revis and his agent are demanding. Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history, makes $15.5 million per season. Asomugha is an excellent player and one of the league's top 3-5 cornerbacks, but last season Revis was head-and-shoulders ahead of everyone else as a pure cover corner.

But Asomugha got paid by Al Davis, whose questionable decision-making in recent seasons has helped run the Raiders once-proud franchise into the ground. The Jets are run by people with brains, and their brains tell them that Revis is not worth $16 million per season, no matter how good he is. Not with players like Nick Mangold and David Harris entering the final seasons of their contracts.

The Jets feel Asomugha is overpaid and don't want to make the same mistake with Revis. Just because one idiot owner is willing to overpay a great corner doesn't mean the Jets have to.

Revis' side:
The arguments in favor of Revis are obvious. He's the game's best young corner whose breakout season in 2009 was the most important factor behind the Jets surge to the AFC Championship Game. He is a better player than Asomugha not to mention younger, meaning he deserves more money, right?

Revis also wants to get paid before the potential 2011 lockout and a new collective bargaining agreement, which will undoubtedly result in lower salaries for players across the board, particularly rookies.

Regardless of how ludicrous the demands of the Revis camp may seem, THEY HAVE ALL THE LEVERAGE. The Jets need Revis much more than Revis needs the Jets. If he sits out the season and finds his way into a different uniform, some owner will be glad to shell out $15+ million to get Revis. And without Revis this season, the Jets are the third-best team in their own division rather than the potential frontrunner.

My take:
To steal a quote from the character KGB in the movie "Rounders," PAY THAT MAN HIS MONEY! Every owner's goal is to win a championship and many believe the Jets are one of the prime contenders to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl and possibly take home the hardware. But if that championship goal is to be realized, Revis needs to be on the field. Otherwise, the Jets are a 9-7 team at best that will be surpassed by the Patriots and Dolphins.

The demands may be slightly ridiculous, but Jets fans and management can thank Davis for that. When he threw $15.5 million Asomugha's way, he set a terrible precedent for elite cornerbacks in the league. Listening to what the Jets brass has to say (i.e. bashing Revis, saying they don't need him, etc.) just proves that they know how important he is to this team. They know they have little leverage in the situation, but they're trying their best to get Revis back to the team on their terms.

News flash: That's not going to happen. Pay Revis what he wants, pay Mangold as well (good centers are hard to come by) and let Harris go to free agency. Young, ball-hawking linebackers are easier to find than franchise cornerbacks. And once you pay Revis, enjoy the ride this season because it will be a fun one. But without Revis at home on his island, nobody will be celebrating anything in New York this season.

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