Commentary

Earth to Woody: Pay Revis already!

Jets' owner needs to avoid Dolan-esque mistake and sign his talented corner ... now

Updated: August 10, 2010, 10:15 AM ET
By Ian O'Connor | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Now the Jets have really made it in the Naked City. Now their owner can open his mouth in a faraway corner of New York, a country mile from Broadway, and say something more relevant than anything the Yankees and Red Sox would do over three and a half hours in the Bronx.

Sinatra was playing in Yankee Stadium after a four-game series ended in a split, ended with the Red Sox holding fast to the remains of their season, and Woody Johnson was swinging the heaviest lumber of the day in Cortland, N.Y., telling reporters and -- by extension -- Darrelle Revis that the cornerback can take his requested raise and stuff it.

Asked whether he was optimistic Revis would be signed before the start of the season, Johnson said, "The answer is no."

Darrelle Revis
AP Photo/Bill KostrounDarrelle Revis' agents presented their latest contract proposal to the Jets on Friday.

Johnson fired a warning shot over Revis' helmet, and he shouldn't have knocked himself out in the process. If he refuses to pay Revis, the owner will be doing something James Dolan dumb.

Don't do it, Woody. Don't follow Dolan and the Wilpons down a dark road to who knows where.

Too many New York franchises are being hurt by too many unforced ownership errors, and this is Johnson's chance to pounce. His chance to take the marketplace by the throat by paying his best player and making the Jets strong enough to walk Rex Ryan's talk.

Dolan made Isiah Thomas his most conspicuous free-agent grab. Fred Wilpon let another season die an unnecessary death by doing nothing before the trade deadline to resuscitate the Mets.

Johnson shouldn't make this some unholy trinity of metropolitan-area rich guys mismanaging their toys. Johnson needs to tell Mike Tannenbaum to offer whatever eight-figure salary will secure Revis' signature and then order the GM to fax in the papers faster than the cornerback can break on a pass in the flat.

And once Woody receives a contract awaiting his signature, he can summon the spirit of another Johnson, Keyshawn, and bark, "Just give me the damn ballpoint."

"Darrelle is the Jeter of the Jets," Tannenbaum has told one of Revis' agents, Neil Schwartz.

George Steinbrenner gave the Jeter of the Yankees $189 million way back when, and this winter Steinbrenner's children likely will offer their shortstop tens of millions in a brand-new deal, all of it fully guaranteed.

"The Jets still have not given us a proposal with one penny in it that's fully guaranteed," Schwartz said by phone. So the holdout rages on, and the agent confirmed Revis will miss the entire 2010 season if the Jets don't come to their senses, and fast.

"Darrelle will not play under the current contract," Schwartz said. "But he loves the Jets, loves his teammates, loves his head coach, loves New York City. He loves everything about being a Jet, but he's not happy with the contract."

Woody Johnson needs to make him happy. His GM met with Revis' agents, Schwartz and Jon Feinsod, on Friday at a Roscoe, N.Y., diner, where they haggled a lot more over the contract than they did over the bill. The agents gave Tannenbaum a revised proposal they wanted Johnson to see for himself.

"We didn't want Mike to interpret it for Mr. Johnson," Schwartz said. "If Mr. Johnson didn't like the proposal, that's fine, but what didn't you like about it? Was it all garbage? ... We gave the Jets a very fair proposal, and we hope Mr. Johnson sat and read it and understood that we addressed a lot of his previous concerns in that proposal."

Revis is scheduled to earn $1 million this season, a complete joke of a wage in a sport that kills off its wounded with alarming ease. Nonguaranteed contracts are discarded as easily as a crushed Gatorade cup, and buyout packages often are smaller than a referee's whistle.

Yes, Revis signed that contract, one the Jets acknowledge he's outplayed. But Thomas Jones and Alan Faneca and Pete Kendall signed their contracts, too, until the Jets decided they didn't like the way their numbers added up.

Never mind Leon Washington and the deal he was ready to get until he went and ruined his leg.

"Look at the Leon situation," Revis told ESPNNewYork.com in June. "They were working on his contract, and he broke his leg and missed the season, and now he has no stability, no comfort zone, no anything."

Revis also had heard the Derek Jeter line from Jets management, heard how much the organization appreciated his dignity and class.

"And the thing I'm so frustrated by," he said then, "is they sit here and tell me this to my face. But then they don't want to value me or honor me for that."

Ryan already is on record predicting that Revis will be a Jet for life, that the cornerback could blow past Joe Willie Namath as the greatest Jet of them all. The coach has set the market with his mouth, and Revis has set the market with his feet and hands.

But the Jets simply don't want to pay what the market will bear. "My impression is no progress," Johnson said. "That's the way Mike characterized it to me was no movement whatsoever."

It's time for some movement, and for Johnson to assume the role of Mariano Rivera if Tannenbaum can't close the deal.

The Jets must confront the cold, hard truth: If Oakland's Nnamdi Asomugha has a deal averaging $15.1 million a pop, a superior player such as Revis has every right to ask for a superior wage.

There's likely a compromise to be reached slightly south of that figure, something like the midpoint between the Jets' Cortland camp and the diner in Roscoe. Woody Johnson needs to find it. And he needs to run a 4.3 40 on the way there.

Ian O'Connor is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Ian O'Connor

ESPNNewYork.com columnist
Ian O'Connor has won numerous national awards as a sports columnist and is the author of three books, including the bestseller, "The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter." ESPN Radio broadcasts "The Ian O'Connor Show" every Sunday from 7 to 9 a.m. ET. Follow Ian on Twitter »

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