Taking issue with speculation that lagging PSL sales have affected his ability to re-sign core veterans such as Darrelle Revis, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson defended his track record for spending on players and claimed the team has "a very full budget" that will allow it to lock up Revis & Co. to long-term deals.
"I've heard that, and it's not true," Johnson told ESPNNewYork.com on Friday, alluding to reports that he's cash-strapped. "The fact is, the PSLs are related to the building of the building" -- the new $1.6 billion stadium -- "and have nothing to do with player salaries or any of that. For the last 10 years, we've shown the ability to fund a team that has played at the highest levels. Only last year, I was accused of being one of the highest-spending owners in the league."
That was a subtle reference to Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins.
On Thursday, Revis challenged the front office, saying, "The Jets need to pay their guys." He suggested that "a lot of teams," including the Jets, "might be cheap this year because they don't know what's going to happen in the future with the lockout or not."
Currently, the Jets rank in the middle of the league in terms of 2010 player salaries, surprising to some because this is an uncapped year.
One day after Revis' comments, the Jets announced that prices for 9,000 unsold personal seat licenses will be reduced by as much as 50 percent. Johnson said "the No. 1 objective" for making the bold decision was to ensure a sellout by the start of the season, a Monday night home opener against the Baltimore Ravens on ESPN.
Meanwhile, the negotiations with Revis, seeking to become the highest-paid cornerback in the league, are moving at a glacial pace, frustrating their star player. The club hasn't even begun substantive negotiations with center Nick Mangold and linebacker David Harris, both of whom are entering the final year of their contracts. Mangold is so upset that he said he may not shot up for next week's mandatory minicamp.
Asked point-blank if the Jets have reduced the budget for player salaries, Johnson said, "No, we've done nothing of the sort. We have a budget, just like we do every year. We make our own judgments within the structure of the league's system. We have a very full budget, basically the same as last year. We're prepared to spend and we know how to spend."
Johnson, echoing the sentiment of coach Rex Ryan, called Revis a "great player" and reiterated the organization is willing to renegotiate his contract, which has three years remaining. The Jets have made two proposals to Revis' agents, both of which were rejected.
The All-Pro cornerback has hinted that he may hold out in training camp, which, based on language in his current contract, would void the guaranteed money in 2011 and 2012 -- a total of $20 million. He'd still get paid, but it would be a risk to surrender the guarantee.
Revis is using Nnamdi Asomugha's contract with the Oakland Raiders as a benchmark. Asomugha is making $15.1 million per year, including more than $16 million in 2010 and 2011. It's believed the Jets have made an offer in the $10 million-a-year neighborhood; they regard the Asomugha contract as an aberration.