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Monday, September 6, 2010
Jets can breathe sigh of Darrelle Revis relief

By Tim Graham

Everybody associated with the New York Jets -- their players, their management, their fans -- can exhale now.

And the rest of the AFC East may feel free to curse.

All-intergalactic cornerback Darrelle Revis is back. Fittingly, he'll end his 36-day holdout and get back to work on Labor Day.

Darrelle Revis
Darrelle Revis is ending his holdout and heading back to the Jets.
Late Sunday, just before midnight, the Jets found sweet relief from a contract dispute that had tainted their summer. After knocking heads for seven months, the sides had a breakthrough in negotiations and quickly came to an agreement on a new four-year contract.

"I think I had to medicate the head coach," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said of Rex Ryan's reaction to the deal being struck.

The Jets weren't banking on Revis to be in uniform when they open their season on "Monday Night Football" against the Baltimore Ravens at the Meadowlands -- or any other week.

The Jets spent the offseason loading up for a Super Bowl run, and the front office convinced itself Revis wouldn't be on the team.

"Until it was done," Tannenbaum said on a conference call that began after 1 a.m. Monday morning, "I really didn't think he was going to be here. ... There was no reason to think he would be."

Tannenbaum admitted he had been abusing his Netflix subscription lately to stave boredom. Negotiations with Revis' agents stalled. He had little to discuss about Revis and vanishing hope.

There were fundamental differences. Revis wanted to be the NFL's highest-paid cornerback, but the standard established by the Oakland Raiders with Nnamdi Asomugha distorted the market. Besides, Revis had three years left on his current contract.

"I really wasn't optimistic," Tannenbaum said. "It was really, collectively, a hard set of dynamics. I'm an optimist by nature, but, gosh, this was really hard."

But Revis is their best player, one of the NFL's best at any position. How could they be taken seriously as Super Bowl contenders without him?

They probably couldn't, and the Jets knew it.

That's why Ryan and owner Woody Johnson flew to South Florida on Saturday to meet face-to-face with Revis. Also present were Revis' mother, Diana Gilbert, and his uncle, Sean Gilbert, a former defensive lineman who sat out an entire year in a contract clash with the Washington Redskins. The fact Sean Gilbert was advising his nephew was added reason for pessimism.

Tannenbaum called the South Florida meeting pivotal to striking a deal.

"There's no question that without that step we wouldn't be standing where we are right now," Tannenbaum said.

Revis will show up at the Jets facility Monday to sign the deal. Financial terms haven't been disclosed yet.

But fans probably don't care much about that anymore outside of curiosity over what they were forced to fret over while Revis missed training camp and all four preseason games.

"This is an intermediate step to what we hope will be an entire career of Darrelle as a Jet, for him to retire as a Jet, for him to hopefully go to the Hall of Fame one day as a Jet, to go in our Ring of Honor," Tannenbaum said. "This is the next step in that process."

Now the Jets don't have to find out how their defense will look without him. There were theories either way.

Some analysts felt the Jets would be fine without him, that they'd receive sufficient cornerback play from Antonio Cromartie, first-round draft choice Kyle Wilson and Dwight Lowery. Others, including ESPN analyst Darren Woodson, thought the Jets would suffer and not even make the playoffs.

"Now we can put it behind us," Tannenbaum said, "and move on to Baltimore."

And we can go to bed.