Thirteen years ago, Sean Gilbert took a stand during contract negotiations with the Washington Redskins. The Pro Bowl defensive tackle was so entrenched in his position that he sat out the entire 1997 season, refusing to play for the franchise tag -- $3.4 million. Things got ugly, real ugly, and he wound up being traded to the Carolina Panthers in 1998.
Why should you care about this? Because Gilbert has a nephew named Darrelle Revis, who, as you may have heard, is involved in a contract dispute with the New York Jets. In recent weeks, it has been speculated that Gilbert is influencing Revis, perhaps pushing him to take a hard-line stand.
Make no mistake, Revis and Gilbert are very close. They talk and/or text almost every week during the season, Gilbert providing tough love to his nephew. He constantly pushes Revis, making sure the star cornerback doesn’t rest on his laurels. At the recent minicamp, I asked Revis if Gilbert is dispensing opinions on his contract situation.
“I always talk to my uncle,” Revis told me. “He knows the situation, but he tries to stay out of certain things. He doesn’t try to tell me what to do or try to be a control freak. He’s a great uncle and his advice is always good.”
Gilbert, who played at Aliquippa (Pa.) High School and Pitt (Revis’ alma maters), was a terrific defensive tackle. In 1997, he reportedly received a five-year, $20 million offer from the Redskins. He wanted $22.5 million and refused to sign the franchise tender for $3.4 million. He sacrificed $3.4 million by sitting out; that takes conviction.
Is Revis willing to go that far? There have been conflicting reports on whether he will show up for training camp. Remember: If he doesn’t, he will jeopardize a future guarantee -- $20 million, the combined total of his 2011 and 2012 salaries once the Jets exercise a two-year, buy-back after the season. The money goes from guaranteed to non-guaranteed if he skips, and that will be an enormous factor in his decision.
Revis is firm in his belief that he should be the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback, and the Jets feel they've made a very good offer for a player who still has three years left on his contract. Curiously, the offer is D'Brickashaw-esque, way light on guaranteed money, and I get the sense that the Jets aren’t going to deviate all that much from their approach.
Revis is due to make $1 million in 2010, and I can't see him playing for that amount. Conversely, I don’t think the Jets are going to show much flexibility. Stay tuned, because this could be a long fight. It runs in the family.