Revis, Jets agree to new deal; Cutdown weekend awards
Darrelle Revis ended his holdout after Rex Ryan visited him in Florida
Charlie Batch has given back to the Pittsburgh community where he grew up
Cutdown weekend awards, RunPeterKingRun.com and 10 Things I Think
Some real news this morning, obviously, that will impact not only the New York Jets and Wednesday's Hard Knocks' finale, but also the foes on the first month of the Jets' schedule: Darrelle Revis will sign a contract this morning that reinforces the final three years of his contract and adds a fourth year, 2013. Technically, the contract runs through 2016, but I expect it to void to a four-year deal worth, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, $46 million over four years.
I maintained early in training camp that this would be a Labor Day deal, because I thought the Jets would get impatient and because GM Mike Tannenbaum gets deals done, even deals he knows are weighted slightly toward the player. But this one came out of left field to me, and when I finished this column early (for once) Sunday morning, I was convinced that it would be another week at least before it got done, with Revis and his reps preparing to use a shaky first game by the Jets' secondary versus Baltimore against the team in the talks. "Nothing is going on,'' a source told me Saturday around noon. Well, nothing was then -- but later in the day Rex Ryan began to thaw the ice with Revis and his family with a trip to see them in Florida.
So who won? I'd say Revis more than the Jets, but it's definitely a mixed bag.
When the Jets drafted Revis 14th overall in 2007, they paid him like a top-10 pick. I can still hear the grousing to this day from other GMs about the Jets paying Revis more than his slot. And he had three years and $21 million left on that rookie contract. I believe the Jets wanted to add a fourth year to the remaining contract, in exchange for about $20 million in new money injected into the deal. In other words, make it a four-year, $41 million deal. This way they paid Revis about $5 million more than that.
Revis certainly played himself into the upper stratosphere of all NFL players last year, shutting down receivers like Randy Moss, Andre Johnson and Chad Ochocinco; no wideout he played had a 50-yard day. And in the AFC divisional playoff upset of San Diego, Revis allowed one completion by Philip Rivers all day -- for minus-four yards. I believe he's a top-five NFL player right now, and I'd put only Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees over him in current value. The game is all about moving the chains with the short and intermediate passing game, and Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders are by far the two best players at clamping down good receivers and preventing teams from throwing at one side of the field.
With Asomugha earning $14 million a year, on average, over the first two years of his landmark cornerback contract (including guaranteed money the Raiders owe him if they don't exercise the final year of his deal in early 2011), Revis was way behind him, scheduled to earn exactly half of that, on average, in the next three years.
The Jets kept banging home to Revis' agents that they wouldn't tear up the existing contract, nor would they forget about it. In making this, in essence, a deal paying Revis $11.5 million a year for the next four years, Tannenbaum can say he held the line and didn't give Revis even the average of what Asomugha, the highest-paid corner in history, is making. And Revis can say he got $25 million in return for adding one year onto his existing contract.
The reason I think Revis wins, if anyone does, is because those three years left on the deal were an anchor weighing down Revis' arguments about getting the truly big money. And because he'll be 28 when the four-year deal expires. Meaning, if he continues to play well, he'll be in position to get one more mega-contract, at least, from the Jets. Or another very high bidder.
The Jets paid more than they wanted to pay (what team doesn't in mega-contracts like this one?) and it will be easy to say: Contracts with the Jets aren't worth the paper they're printed on. That's for Tannenbaum to worry about with stalwart players like middle linebacker David Harris (2010 cap number: $900,000) working on contracts they have out-performed. The upshot of this deal might be felt in coming years with players like Shonn Greene and Dustin Keller. But the Jets, obviously, felt they had to have Revis for Week 1.
Look at the New York schedule and you can see why Ryan was sweating bullets about getting Revis in. Joe Flacco in Week 1; the Ravens would have targeted first-round pick Kyle Wilson extensively in the game. Guaranteed. Week 2: Tom Brady and the Patriots. Then Chad Henne, who, despite his shaky summer, has a good track record against the Jets; Miami won both meetings last year and added Brandon Marshall to the offense in the offseason. Then Buffalo in Week 4. Then Brett Favre in Week 5. In the first 28 days of the season, the Jets face four top offenses, and Wilson and Antonio Cromartie would have been exposed.
So the Jets are whole. Now, about that offense ...
The other big NFL news on Labor Day weekend, of course, was the Cardinals whacking former Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, the 10th pick in the 2006 draft. But the way the news cycle works, that's old news this morning.
Summing up, Leinart's a goner for these reasons: He wasn't accurate enough; he didn't make quick decisions on the field and execute them well; he never won the locker room over; coach Ken Whisenhunt thought he wouldn't be a good backup to Derek Anderson because he'd be so bummed by not winning the job he thought was surely his. And one more reason. Max Hall. You'll read about him a little lower in this column. You'll want to get to know him. Take my word for it.
Before I get to the Cutdown weekend news, I want to focus on Pittsburgh for a few paragraphs. Yes, the Steelers. A certain someone's Super Bowl pick. In the wake of the team's preseason game Thursday, and the injury to presumptive starting quarterback Byron Leftwich, and the four-game suspension Ben Roethlisberger begins today, there might just be a little hometown-boy-makes-very-good fairy tale being written.
It's possible Steelers coach Mike Tomlin might play 35-year-old Charlie Batch at quarterback in the opener against Atlanta, or in one of the other three games before Roethlisberger returns to face Cleveland on Oct. 17. Or Tomlin could choose the electric but erratic Dennis Dixon to play some or all of the four games. Whatever, Batch will report for practice today without an idea what the immediate future holds for him.
"I don't know anything,'' he said over the weekend. "But I've thought about what it would be like to have that chance. It would be wonderful. I grew up here, and I dreamed about being Mark Malone or Walter Abercrombie some day. I thank God every day I wake up a Steeler. I get to put the black and gold on every day. I'm living the dream.''
Batch last started a game on opening day 2006, with Roethlisberger out after an emergency appendectomy. He completed 15 of 25 passes that day, three for touchdowns in a 28-17 victory over the Dolphins. That made him 3-0 as a replacement starter for the Steelers over a two-year period, something Tomlin might consider in deciding whether to start Batch and bring in Dixon as a changeup pitcher. Or he could give the job to Dixon. Neither would be a surprise. But if it's Batch, it would be the football gods saying, "Son, you deserve this.''
In 1996, when Batch was a quarterback at Eastern Michigan, his younger sister, Danyl Settles, was killed in the crossfire between rival gangs in the rough Pittsburgh neighborhood of Homestead, where the family grew up. Batch was drafted by Detroit in 1998 and played there for parts of four seasons. When the Lions let Batch go in 2002, the Steelers signed him as a backup. Knowing he was moving back home, he decided he had to do something about the hopelessness and violence that plagued the neighborhood where he was raised.
He started a summer basketball program for the boys and girls in town. The program began the Monday after school let out and ran until the weekend before football practice began in late July. It was a bridge, in essence, to keep kids with nothing to do off the streets. And there were a couple of wrinkles. Whereas kids in the Steel Valley School District had to have a 2.0 grade-point average to play sports, Batch made it 2.2 -- so kids would know it's a privilege, and not a right, to play in his league. And he coupled educational opportunities with the sport. Batch put computers in his foundation office in Homestead and set up a place for kids to have an after-school program -- in a community with no YMCA or Boys and Girls Club. He partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to begin taking 15 students a summer to the university to work with architecture professors to see if any of the students might have an architectural bent.
This year, 353 boys and girls, from grade school through high school, played in the Batch basketball league. All had the grades to play -- some because Batch is good friends with the high school guidance counselor, who goes to the kids on the borderline at the end of the third term and tells them: No 2.2, no basketball for you this summer.
When I visited Steelers camp in Latrobe, Pa., this summer, Batch told me about all of this, and I said to him, "You could easily be like so many other players -- just take your money, live the good life, buy a house in Boca and move there. Why didn't you do it?''
"Because I never want another family to feel the way my family did,'' Batch said. "Nothing existed there. If the kids have nothing to do, they all go hang out on one block until the cops tell them to move along. Then they just go find another block. They need something to do, something positive. I want them to understand that sports and education can go hand in hand. You've got to be good to be able to do the other.''
Terrelle Pryor, the Ohio State quarterback, was in the program. DeJuan Blair, the San Antonio Spur, was too. But Batch is more excited about the two kids who played who also found out they loved architecture. They're still in high school, and Batch is hoping they have a chance to further their education with academic scholarships.
Batch gives his cell phone out to all the participants in the program -- not so they'll call and ask him who's going to win the Steelers game that week. "I want them to know there's somebody there for them if they need to talk about anything,'' he said. "I get a few calls.''
I hope he gets another one Sunday from Mike Tomlin, telling him he's starting against Atlanta.
My Final Cutdown Weekend Awards, some ignominious:
Personnel Acumen Award, Rocky Mountain Version: To Denver coach Josh McDaniels and GM Brian Xanders, who last year dealt a 2010 first-round pick (14th overall) to Seattle for its second-round choice -- to draft 5-foot-9 Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith. Smith couldn't crack the starting lineup, so he was shipped Saturday to Detroit for backup tight end Dan Gronkowski. This is how bad an error it was: Denver took the 14th overall pick in 2010 and traded it for the 255th pick in the 2009 draft. That's ridiculous. The Broncos also cut defensive end Jarvis Green, who got $3.2 million in guarantees from them last spring and never played a regular-season snap.
Personnel Acumen Award, South Beach Version: To Miami GM Jeff Ireland and executive VP Bill Parcells for jettisoning the 44th and 87th picks in the 2009 draft, quarterback Pat White and wide receiver Patrick Turner, over the weekend. In fairness to the Dolphins, they did get four solid starters out of the '09 crop -- corners Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, safety Chris Clemons and wideout Brian Hartline.
Personnel Acumen Award, East Coast Version: To Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan of the Redskins for having two of their six 2010 draft picks make the final 53-man roster. Now, the cuts were all sixth- and seventh-round choices, but those should be core special-teamers at manageable salaries with which you fill the bottom quarter of your roster.
The Endangered Species Award: The Giants cut tight end Bear Pascoe. The Falcons cut linebacker Bear Woods.
The Ed Werder-Will-Be-Making-A-Lot-of-Trips-to-Cincinnati-This-Fall Award: To the Bengals. Adam Jones, Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco are on their 53-man roster.
The All In The Family Award: To the Eagles. Two years ago, they thought they had 40 percent of their offensive line locked up for the next half-decade, with the Andrews brothers, Shawn and Stacy, playing integral roles. They fired Shawn in the offseason; he's now property of the Giants, and may start for the G-men, depending on the health of their interior line. And on Saturday they traded Stacy to the Seahawks for a seventh-round pick. I'm all for admitting mistakes and moving on, but that's a little ridiculous.
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