Well, isn't this getting interesting?
While Darrelle Revis continues to hold out in a show of defiance over his contract situation, the Jets are handing out handsome sums to other players deemed almost equally important to their long-term success.
First, tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson quietly agreed to a six-year, $60-million extension. Now, center Nick Mangold is on the verge of cashing in.
A league source familiar with the Jets' situation confirmed to Newsday last night that a long-term extension for Mangold was imminent. News of it was first reported by Profootballtalk.com. It is expected to at least equal the five-year, $37.5-million deal signed last year by Rams center Jason Brown.
And Revis? Tick, tick, tick.
There was a buzz late Sunday afternoon when Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw, a regular panelist on ESPN's "Around the Horn," wrote on his Twitter account that the Jets and Revis will announce an agreement as early as Wednesday. But a league source told me late Sunday that the speculation was inaccurate. I'm led to believe there has been little progress in the Revis talks.
Which makes you wonder if Revis is beginning to overplay his hand. With three years left on his deal and the Jets offering as much as $122 million over 10 years - you read right, $122 million over 10 years - he is demanding $162 million over 10 years, according to NFL sources.
With that $40-million chasm showing no sign of closing soon, the Jets appear to be doing the next-best thing: signing their other key young players to deals that are more palatable.
Revis had better watch it, because he has little leverage other than to withhold his services in what is becoming a decidedly more unpopular holdout. With the Jets taking care of two players who decided not to walk out during negotiations, Revis will keep being squeezed until he's backed into a corner.
The choice might come down to taking a much more modest deal than what he's demanding, or to sit out the season and possibly forgo part or all of a deal that will pay him $21 million in guaranteed money over the next three years. It calls for him to make $1 million this season, which would make him by far the game's most underpaid cornerback. But unless he's willing to take a more reasonable long-term deal, he could be out of luck. And with a lockout looming in 2011 . . .
No paycheck for two years? That's an awful lot to give up.
Revis wants to guard against the possibility of injury with a deal loaded with guaranteed money. But an NFL executive suggested it isn't only football injuries he has to worry about. There are a lot of ways to get hurt, he said. You could walk off a curb and get hit by a bus. And he'd be left with nothing.
Ferguson and Mangold now have long-term security, while Revis continues his increasingly risky game of chicken with a team prepared to keep playing hardball. He can complain all he wants about not being paid fairly, but with three years left on his deal, it's not as if he has a lot of choices. And remember, this is the deal he held out for as a rookie in 2007.
The Jets approached Revis soon after their AFC title game loss to the Colts and expressed a willingness to give him a better contract. With Ferguson and Mangold cashing in and David Harris poised to get his money no later than next year, Revis is starting to run out of options.
There's still time for him, but we're not talking forever here. Time for Revis to understand he'll be left behind unless he's ready to deal.