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Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Holdout? Say it isn't so, Darrelle

By Johnette Howard

With the NFL draft about to begin and the attention of the football world on New York this week, the Jets should be running from their past problems and talking about fresh starts and rebound seasons and the promising new players they might get.

They don't need to be lugging around yet another bad carryover from the past, like Darrelle Revis' not-so-secret wish to revisit his contract -- again.

"I just don't know," the All-Pro cornerback told a group of reporters on Monday. "I'm not saying I am going to hold out; I'm not saying I'm not going to hold out. Right now my focus is just being on the team."

Darrelle Revis
The Jets don't need any problems with Darrelle Revis after their tumultuous 2011 season.

If Revis is half the team leader and clear thinker he always seemed to be, he should end the speculation. Be the first key player to prove things are going to be different for the 2012 Jets than the 2011 team that became a laughingstock.

He should say that when training camp arrives, he intends to show up and play, not drag the Jets through the third nasty contract holdout of his five-year NFL career.

Revis has to know that unlike his first two contract holdouts, this is a public relations battle he has little chance of winning. The Jets have too many other roster holes to fill and not enough salary-cap space to do everything. Their 2011 season ended in too much failure and acrimony, and they haven't proved they're beyond it.

But there's an even better reason that Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum had every right to bristle earlier and say "I've said all I'm going to say about his [Revis'] contract" when the question came up last week.

When you crunch the numbers, Revis isn't being wronged by the 2010 deal he signed. Not even close.

Revis already has collected $32.5 million from the first two years of that intentionally frontloaded deal. And it's true Revis' base salary dips this season to a "bargain" level of $7.5 million. But that's misleading. His average salary of $13.3 million these past three years (counting 2012) still made him the highest-paid corner in the league.

So ... exactly what is his gripe again?

The Jets would prefer to wait until next year to reopen talks. The team has enough dramas as it is. Showing up and playing out an already fair deal is the only way Revis doesn't become part of the Jets' dysfunction instead of part of the cure.

The Jets still need to find out what head coach Rex Ryan learned since admittedly losing the pulse of the locker room in 2011. They need to figure out how Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow will coexist. They still don't know when -- if ever -- Santonio Holmes will get a clue on how to fit into a team that has bent over backward to accommodate him. But it was a lousy start to see Holmes scoff recently when asked whether he intends to change his approach and fire back, "Why should I?"

Revis has been regarded as a different, better kind of teammate and person. He's been a saner, smarter voice in the Jets' locker room, even when the circus has been at its worst.

Although it's been four months since the underachieving 2011 team broke up, it's hard to shake the bracing mental image of Revis brushing past reporters the day after the season ended with his mouth clamped shut. He uncharacteristically refused to talk about anything, let alone the Jets' failure to make the playoffs or Holmes getting kicked out of the offensive huddle the day before in the Jets season finale.

The silent protest was Revis' way of showing his disgust for a wasted season without throwing more gas on the problems. And it was a principled stand to take. But it leaves Revis little wiggle room now to throw himself on the carpet and say he wants to revisit his contract or add to the team's distractions.

Revis' counter? He's claimed in the past that he and the Jets had an understanding that the last deal he signed was just a temporary compromise. But there's nothing that says the deal has to be redone this year rather than next.

Ryan is working to keep his job.

Tannenbaum could be, too.

Sanchez is at a crossroads where he either reignites hope that he's a franchise quarterback who can take the Jets to a Super Bowl or just sparks more fears that he's sliding closer to holding a clipboard the rest of his career.

Few people argue that Revis is the best cornerback in the league. And yes, some of the other deals that other NFL stars got this past winter must look enviable to him.

But if Revis insists on yet another contract holdout this year, if he ignores everything else the Jets have to hurdle and refuses to show up and play, he'll look like every other run-of-the-mill malcontent in the NFL who's ever yelled, "What about me, me, me?"