FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It's a frightening, yet fair question to ponder: Is Darrelle Revis going to hit the open market in 2014?
Based on technicalities in his four-year contract with the New York Jets, Revis will be free to walk away after the 2013 season. He will be going on 29, still with prime years left, available to the highest bidder. And the Jets won't be able to stop him because, in the new deal, there's a clause that says they can't restrict him with the franchise or transition tag.
This is doubly concerning for Jets fans because, as many of them know, the organization has a policy on renegotiations: It renegotiates only rookie contracts. If a player has a year or more remaining on his second or third contract and wants a raise, tough luck. You have to play out your deal. It's why they refused to give a new deal to running back Thomas Jones, who wound up being released.
This policy, coupled with the structure of Revis' contract, has fueled speculation that the team's best defensive player might not retire a Jet. It's easy to draw that conclusion, but let's provide some clarification:
The organization views Revis' contract as an adjustment to his rookie contract, not a new deal, per se. In the Jets' eyes, he's still on his first contract, leaving open the possibility of a contract extension before the deal expires.
That might contradict the spirit of the "no renegotiation" policy, but the organization doesn't see the Revis deal as an extension. He had three years, $21 million remaining on his rookie deal; now he has four years, $46 million. Seems like a one-year extension, right?
From the Jets' perspective, they always approached it as though Revis had four years remaining because their intention was to use the franchise tag in 2013, assuming they couldn't agree to a long-term extension. If you think they're fudging the "rules," you may have a point, but remember: It's an in-house policy, so there's no one to stop them from fudging.
The way Revis' contract is structured, there's a very good chance the Jets will approach him after the 2010 season to try to re-negotiate again, especially if a new CBA is in place. They will be motivated because Revis is due $25 million in 2011, and the Jets may try to extend the deal to spread out the money.
"I think he signed a four-year deal, so he's probably going to want another deal next year," quarterback Mark Sanchez said Tuesday.
He was joking, but there was truth in that remark.
One thing seems certain: There will be no Revis holdouts in 2011, 2012 or 2013. If he stages another holdout, he'll be under contract through 2016. The deal includes a three-year voidable, a huge incentive to show up on time each year. If he does that, the contract voids to four years and he's free.
The Jets have no intention of letting it get that far, but it could raise eyebrows in the locker room if they renegotiate Revis' deal a second time.
How would veterans like Kris Jenkins, Jerricho Cotchery and Jim Leonhard -- all beyond their rookie contracts, all deserving of raises -- feel about that? Would it be considered a double standard for Revis? Would they receive similar "adjustments" to their contracts?
The Jets feel every player is entitled to one big bite out of the apple. Revis could get two. Sometimes reality bites.