Thursday, January 16, 2014
Analysis: A compromise for Rex, Jets
By Rich Cimini
A few quick thoughts on Rex Ryan's multiyear contract extension with the New York Jets, first reported by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter:
1. Window dressing: There's more to this deal than meets the eye. Because he had one year remaining on his previous deal, Ryan is now under contract for at least three seasons, through 2016. Ah, but this wasn't a typical contract extension. As Schefter reported, the deal is based heavily on incentives for postseason wins. Concrete details have yet to emerge, but it sounds as if Ryan accepted non-guaranteed money on the back end of the deal in exchange for an added year (or years), with a chance to recoup the difference by winning playoff games.
2. So what does it mean? This smacks of a compromise. Initially, the Jets wanted to offer only a one-year extension. Ryan wanted more than a year. This contract is the best of both worlds. It's a one-year extension that looks like a multiyear extension. Here's how: If Ryan wins in the postseason in 2014 and/or 2015, he cashes in for 2016. In essence, he's betting on himself. He can enjoy the benefits of having added security -- or at least the perception of added security -- and the team is protected in the short term. If Ryan doesn't win a playoff game before 2016, the Jets can opt out of the deal. But let's be honest: No contract is fireproof. If he goes 4-12 in 2014, he won't make it to 2015.
3. 'Duck' hunting season is over: Even with all of its complexities, this contract removes the perception that Ryan will be coaching for his job in 2014. That was an ongoing theme throughout this past season, and the constant speculation chafed him at times, according to people close to the coach. The term "lame duck" won't be thrown around anymore. This sends a message to the fan base that the franchise is firmly behind Ryan for the long term -- or, shall we say, the quasi-long term.
4. Who'da thunk it? You have to hand it to Ryan. In the span of a few weeks, he went from the firing line to the cash line at the bank. After a surprising 8-8 season, he absolutely deserved an extension, but he parlayed wins against the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins into a potentially bigger score than your basic one-year extension. Owner Woody Johnson is obviously a huge fan. Not many coaches could turn three straight non-playoff seasons -- heck, three straight non-winning seasons -- into this type of deal. That now-famous postgame celebration in Miami must have made quite an impact on Johnson.
5. The Rex and John Show: General manager John Idzik has been saying that he and Ryan are joined at the hip, and this contract gives the impression they are a true partnership. The Jets like to do things in an unconventional way, and it was certainly unconventional to hire a GM with the mandate that he keep the coach for at least a year. It fueled rampant skepticism, people saying the marriage was doomed to fail, but Idzik and Ryan -- an odd couple in so many ways -- managed to click. By signing off on Ryan's extension (we're assuming Idzik was on board), it means Idzik is willing to tie his future to Ryan.