With three days until training camp, the New York Jets and Darrelle Revis appear no closer to a new contract than several weeks ago, when the star cornerback last voiced his displeasure with his current deal. It's eerily quiet, with league sources saying Thursday there hasn't been any recent dialogue between the two sides.
A holdout looms as a strong possibility, as the Jets seem intent on letting Revis make the next move. Revis hasn't declared whether he will report to camp in Cortland, N.Y., but he appears to be leaning toward not showing up. Because he's under contract, he would incur more than $16,000 a day in fines.
An 11th-hour solution to the standoff could be a "Band-Aid" contract, a short-term fix similar to the deal that settled Chris Johnson's dispute with the Tennessee Titans. That would mean sweetening Revis' 2010 pay ($1 million) and tabling discussions for a long-term contract until after the season, when perhaps the NFL's labor picture will be clear. Both sides seem open to the idea, but someone needs to pick up the phone.
At this point, a long-term extension is a long shot, with both sides entrenched in their positions. Revis, who believes he was promised a new deal by the Jets, wants to be the highest-paid cornerback in the league. He's seeking $16.5 million per year, which would top the Oakland Raiders' Nnamdi Asomugha.
The Jets say they're willing to do a deal "within reason," but they believe the Asomugha contract is an aberration. They're also reluctant to load the contract with big upfront money even though this is an uncapped year. They're believed to be offering around $12 million a year, but none of it is fully guaranteed, sources said -- meaning it's not guaranteed against injury and skill deterioration.
Based on the so-called reallocation rule, one of the many quirks of the uncapped year, the Jets can't guarantee future base salaries against both skill and injury, seemingly restricting their ability to structure a contract. They want Revis to accept a D'Brickashaw Ferguson-type contract, with little signing bonus and rolling guarantees.
But the feeling in Revis' camp is that the Jets are hiding behind that rule, using it as an alibi to avoid a big signing bonus. Some suspect that owner Woody Johnson has cash-flow issues. But he's not the only owner acting this way. Because of the uncertain labor landscape, other owners are proceeding with caution.
It's a multifaceted dispute, with no end in sight -- unless they opt for the quick fix. But even that would take some creative negotiating. This much is certain: The Jets need Revis, arguably the main cog in Rex Ryan's top-rated defense. If Revis doesn't show for camp, it would increase the pressure on the Jets. But there would be strings attached for Revis.
If he's a no-show, the $20 million he's due to make in 2011 and 2012 (assuming the team exercises a two-year buyback after the season), would go from guaranteed to non-guaranteed salary. That's risky, but Revis has told friends that he'd be taking a bigger risk by playing for $1 million. If he were to suffer a career-threatening injury this season, it's possible that he'd never see that $20 million anyway.
Another side to the status quo: If Revis plays for $1 million, he'd be the eighth highest-paid defensive back on the Jets, based on 2010 compensation. That's somewhat deceiving because he already has made a handsome $15 million in three years, but it's eye-opening nonetheless.
Meanwhile, rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson, a first-round pick, remained unsigned Thursday as rookies, quarterbacks and injured players reported for pre-camp.
Rookie running back Joe McKnight failed his conditioning run and has been placed on the active non-football injury list.
The Jets also placed backup quarterback Erik Ainge on the reserve-non football injury list Thursday with an undisclosed illness. He won't count against the team's 80-player roster limit for training camp.
McKnight, the team's fourth-round pick out of Southern California, struggled with his conditioning during rookie minicamp in May. He is still part of the 80-man roster, but can't practice with the team until he passes the test.