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The New York Jets won't play their opener for one more week, but they're already 1-0. They beat Darrelle Revis and his agents.
They got their star cornerback into camp a full week before their first game, and they got it done without having to yield to the outrageous demands of his representatives. For seven months, the two sides played a high-stakes game of poker. In the end, Revis' camp folded.
|Jets fans had been hoping all summer for Darrelle Revis to return.|
The Jets are no worse for the wear. This worked out so perfectly that you almost wonder whether the entire drama was scripted for "Hard Knocks," which will base its final episode around Revis' arrival and contract signing Monday at the team facility in Florham Park, N.J.
Monday just happens to be the final full day of shooting for Wednesday's finale. Coincidence?
Unless Revis suffers one of those show-up-late, pull-a-hamstring injuries, the holdout and its effects won't be an issue by Week 2. In some ways, it might have helped the Jets because it afforded rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson plenty of valuable playing time in the preseason.
Now, Revis will step into his old spot, left cornerback. Antonio Cromartie will go back to his old spot, right corner. And Wilson will go back to where he was drafted to play, the slot nickel. Plus, Jets coach Rex Ryan will go back to being his old self, declaring, "Watch out. We're back, baby!"
Oh, wait a second, Ryan never admitted the Jets were gone, not even when a Revis return appeared hopeless. Ah, but we knew better. Despite his bombast, Ryan knew he'd never be able to have a truly dominant defense without his No. 1 cornerback.
Now he doesn't have to worry anymore. Ryan can go back into his bunker with defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, cooking up exotic blitz packages that will frighten opposing quarterbacks. They would've done that without Revis, but having No. 24 -- the ultimate security blanket -- on the back end will allow them more freedom to take chances and dictate the tempo of games.
The Jets usually find a way to botch these sorts of things (see Pete Kendall, 2007), but they played this holdout perfectly, agreeing to a four-year, $46 million deal. Revis wanted $16 million per year, Nnamdi Asomugha money. No way, the Jets said. So they waited. And waited.
They offered $12 million per year on a 10-year deal and $10 million per year on a four-year. The result: Nothing, except a lunch at the Roscoe Diner with Revis' agents, Jon Feinsod and Neil Schwartz.
Then on Saturday, the Jets hatched an idea. They would send Ryan and owner Woody Johnson to Revis' home in Florida, hoping to smooth-talk him into a deal. It worked, adding to Ryan's credibility. Say this about him: Yeah, there's a lot of bluster, but he gets players to follow his lead. Maybe we should call him, not fullback John Conner, the Terminator. Ryan put an end to this nonsense.
The star cornerback held out for five weeks, incurring nearly $600,000 in fines, and he ended up pretty much where he began. Think about it: Before the holdout, Revis was to make $21 million for the next three years, all of it guaranteed. By failing to show for camp, he voided the guarantee.
His new deal includes $32 million in guarantees. (We don't know yet how much is fully guaranteed.) If Revis had simply showed up and played out the three years left on his contract, and received an $18 million franchise tag in 2013, it would've been $39 million (all guaranteed) over four years.
Obviously, the new deal offers much more short-term security because he never would've played for $1 million this season. In that respect, the contract is a win for Revis. But who's to say he won't stage another holdout in 2012? If you're the Jets, you have to be worried about that.
For now, everybody wins. Revis gets more money this season, the Jets get their best player and "Hard Knocks" gets a Hollywood ending.
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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