Asomugha's outrageous salary could make it difficult on Revis, Jets

Darrelle Revis did what he had to do Tuesday night and made things right with Rex Ryan.

That was smart. That helped provide a more clearly defined battle line in Revis' escalating contract squabble with the New York Jets.

The star cornerback has no beef with his head coach. And why should he? Ryan has been nothing but supportive of Revis since joining the Jets last year. He instantly recognized how vital Revis is to the attack-oriented defensive scheme he brought to the Jets, and put him in a position to make the most of his tremendous ball-hawking skills.

Ryan has, in fact, given Revis strong ammunition in his efforts to get a gargantuan pay increase by calling him the best defensive player in the game.

So it made absolutely no sense for Revis to do what his coach interpreted as a slap in the face -- using "light-headedness" as a phony excuse to sit out some drills on Monday during a mandatory minicamp when he actually did it to protest the fact that the Jets have yet to make him an offer he can't refuse.

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While Darrelle Revis has mended his relationship with the Jets and their coach, the team's All-Pro center is unhappy with the lack of progress in contract negotiations. More ...

On Tuesday, Revis was fully back in action, but after hearing Ryan acknowledge to reporters that the cornerback could be "pulling a fast one on us," Revis knew they had to talk. And they did. And the air has been cleared. As Ryan explained to ESPN, "It's funny because, when it's a football thing, we definitely see eye to eye. He knows what I expect of him and vice versa."

Going forward, that's exactly how it should be between them. Minicamp practice should be a "football thing," not a contract thing. The only business that Ryan and his coaching staff want addressed on the practice field is doing whatever is necessary to help the team that went as far as the AFC Championship Game last season take the next step. Ryan has every reason to expect that Revis and all of the other players in attendance are focused on that.

The coach is well aware that contract issues can be distracting, and he isn't, for a second, begrudging Revis' desire to get more money. He just doesn't want him to turn his football classroom into a bargaining table. Revis needs to keep that sort of thing right where it belongs -- between him and Jets management. He and Ryan are straight on that now.

What isn't so straight is where Revis and the Jets are headed in this dispute.

Revis is on record as saying he wants to become the NFL's highest-paid cornerback. That would mean something north of the three-year, $45.3-million deal that the Oakland Raiders gave Nnamdi Asomugha last year. That would mean erasing the roughly $14.2-million gap between Revis, who is due to make $1 million in the fourth year of his six-year rookie contract, and Asomugha, whose annual salary is $15.2 million.

As much as the Jets recognize Revis' importance to their success, they are unlikely to give him a deal that matches, let alone exceeds, Asomugha's.

When the Raiders agreed to give Asomugha all of that money, he was widely regarded as the best cornerback in the league. The argument could be made that Revis is better. Certainly, he is more productive when it comes to getting interceptions, although most NFL observers are quick to say that is mainly because opponents tend to avoid throwing in Asomugha's direction.

But more than a few club owners and general managers were known to be unhappy with Asomugha's deal, saying it was too rich for the position and establishes a bad precedent for future negotiations. Sure enough, that's exactly what is happening between the Jets and Revis. Some league insiders have gone as far as to speculate that at least part of what Al Davis hoped to accomplish by being so generous with his star cornerback was to make things a little more difficult for his opponents' dealings with their star cornerbacks.

Even if Revis is the better player, does that require the Jets to duplicate something they and others around the NFL don't view as a sound business decision? No.

Revis has $20 million in guaranteed money coming his way in 2011 and 2012. Perhaps that could be involved in some sort of restructuring of his existing contract that makes him feel as if the Jets are paying him equal to his status as one of the best cornerbacks/defenders in the league.

If Revis won't accept anything less than Asomugha money, he and the Jets are in for a long and difficult fight. Ryan understands that as well as anyone.

But no one can fault him for wanting to keep that fight from spilling onto his field.

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