When Jets finally get deal done, Revis will be the clear-cut winner
League sources believe Jets will cave and meet Darrelle Revis' demands
Every move Jets have made has been with 2010 Super Bowl in mind
The Jets are not a Super Bowl team without Revis, and they know it
Depending on whom you choose to believe, the end of the messy Darrelle Revis holdout reportedly is either at hand or nowhere in sight. But whether the Jets and their star cornerback have a deal that's nearly in place or have more work to do on that front, you can count on a deal assuredly getting done at some point in the near future.
And when it does, I'm convinced Revis will be the clear-cut winner.
I've come around to that way of thinking because whenever I talked to league sources about the Revis holdout over the course of the past three or four weeks, the near unanimous opinion offered was that in time the Jets would cave and meet most of his demands.
Why? Because when you step back and assess the dynamics of this stand off, one thing becomes abundantly clear: New York, wearing its win-now sense of urgency for all to see on its green and white sleeves, needs Revis more than Revis needs New York.
Normally that's not the case in terms of how much leverage one key starter holds over a club's season, but these are far from normal days for the glory-seeking Jets. This is a team that's hellbent on getting it done -- and we're talking the whole enchilada, not just another step up the playoff ladder -- in 2010.
It's not only that bold and brash Jets head coach Rex Ryan started talking Super Bowl or bust the moment he stepped in the door of the team complex in January 2009. Consider some of the factors at play and moves New York has made with a Super season in mind for 2010:
Signing 31-year-old running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who can almost see the sand slipping through the hourglass that is his 10-year NFL career and desperately seeks a chance to play for the game's biggest prize.
Trading for the talented but damaged goods that are cornerback Antonio Cromartie, receiver Santonio Holmes and receiver Braylon Edwards over the span of the past 10 months, all of whom are entering contract years this season with their careers at a crossroads. Holmes came with the added bonus of facing a four-game league suspension to start this year, meaning he's a potential gamble with even 25 percent less chance of paying off than the others.
Taking occupancy this summer in the new $1.6 billion stadium they share with the Giants, and for the first time in franchise history having expensive personal seat licenses to sell. Some of those PSLs cost as much as $30,000 per ticket, and in June the Jets cut the price of some of their lower-end PSLs as much as 50 percent. So no, it isn't a coincidence that New York continues its frenzied Super Bowl push at the very moment it has asked its fans to ante up with a huge financial commitment.
Opening up its training camp to NFL Films and the revealing HBO Hard Knocks series during training camp, a move that was designed to further capitalize on Jets Fever, earn more local and national media coverage than the traditionally more popular crosstown Giants, and build on the momentum created by last year's 9-7 wild-card playoff team with its unexpected trip to the AFC title game.
Given all that has been invested in the Jets taking their best possible shot at winning a Super Bowl this season, how could they do anything but somehow find a way to satisfy their best player? Getting everything but Revis done and back on the field this year would be like planning an elaborate surprise birthday party for your spouse and then forgetting to buy a cake. That should have been one of the first steps, not the last.
As if all of the above-mentioned motivation isn't enough, the urgency level in New York to win a ring right now, right here is even higher given the uncertainty that looms throughout the NFL in 2011. With no one capable of predicting exactly what will come from next year's labor showdown -- some football, no football, status quo football? -- there's a last-best-shot feel that's alive within the league in 2010. Nowhere is that more pronounced than in the Jets team complex, where Ryan stokes the Super Bowl fires on an almost daily basis, cajoling and challenging his team to land itself a Lombardi.
And that's why 2010 means more to the Jets than any other NFL team -- and it's not even close. That's why New York, like the Vikings in the NFC, was held hostage this preseason by one influential player who possessed the key to the team's Super Bowl hopes, and knew it.
Don't get me wrong. I'm quite sure New York can field a team and win its share of games this year without Revis. I'd probably even pick them to again make the playoffs, because the cornerback tandem of Cromartie and rookie Kyle Wilson is no weak link. But win it all? Without Revis, the guy they named an island after? That's a much harder case to make.
Having the NFL's best cornerback in an era largely dominated by those teams that can pass or stop the pass is a tremendous weapon at the Jets' disposal. It's not an overstatement to say the success of New York's top-ranked defense last year started with Revis's ability to seal off his half of the field, giving the other 10 Jets defenders a much smaller chunk of real estate to patrol. It's a simple case of geography, and maybe even geometry.
Ryan, being the lifelong defensive guy he is, knows this better than anyone. He knows Revis's coverage skills allow the Jets defense to take chances in other spots and at certain times of every game. With Revis, New York can stay aggressive on the pass rush, commit another defender to the run, and intimidate opponents into abandoning their passing game to whatever side No. 24 lines up. How many teams can say that? I counted, and there's exactly none.
Revis has had the upper hand when it comes to leverage precisely because he and his representatives know what this season is about for the Jets. Two obvious downsides to the big talk that Ryan has been doing since he arrived in New York are this: He talked up Revis right into a holdout, lavishing praise on his cornerback every chance he got last season, and he talked up his team's Super Bowl chances so much that everyone concerned knows what's at stake in New York this year. Suffice to say the Jets are locked, loaded and have a very itchy trigger finger.
Revis's teammates have gone about their work without him these past four weeks, but they know they're a far better team with him around, and maybe not even Super Bowl material with him holding out. And they know that Ryan and his coaching staff, deep down, know that, too.
As one unidentified Jets starter was quoted in the New York Post on Wednesday, when asked if he could envision a Revis-less season: "I mean, look at the way we've built up this season,'' he said. "This is the year. We've put it all on this year, pushed all of our chips to the middle of the table for this season. We're all in.
"How can we play this season without our best defensive player? I can't see him not being here. That would be crazy.''
Crazy, indeed, which is the biggest reason the Jets are going to give Revis "crazy'' money pretty soon here and get him back into uniform in time for the Monday, Sept. 13, opener at home against Baltimore. As crazy as it sounds, if they want to chase their Super Bowl dreams, they don't really have much of a choice.
Canadiens put together big comeback to beat Senators 5-4 in OT
Bruins get their eighth straight victory with win over Hurricanes