By Jeff Capellini
Forever feeling cut off at the knees, the Jets fan is walking a little taller this day.
In his never-ending pursuit of the almighty dollar, Darrelle Revis has driven this fan base crazy. Let's be honest. But there's no denying he's a great football player, a generational player, and one of the few things this group of downtrodden loyalists can call their own.
Even if, inexplicably, he wasn't for a time.
It was bad enough when the Jets felt they had no choice but to trade Revis in the spring of 2013 due to a contract squabble, but when he signed with the Patriots last offseason it was the ultimate punch to the gut, yet not necessarily personal. After all, when you consider the six-time Pro Bowler's resume and the fact that the Jets have been an underachieving franchise for the majority of their 50-plus-year existence, it's kind of hard to say with a straight face and believe that the guy was really a traitor, or that his heel turn was scripted.
With the exception of Joe Namath, Curtis Martin and a chosen few others, Revis personified hope for a large group of people who often felt like castaways. When he stepped on the field the fans knew no matter how maddening the Jets were at times, they were seeing an individual greatness that not many people get to see. When that was suddenly taken away, there was nothing left but that helpless feeling that follows the search plane not seeing the signal fire.
So when Mikey "The Magic Man" Maccagnan reached into his top hat Tuesday night and pulled out a reported five-year, $70 million contract with $39 million guaranteed, this fan base, for the first time in a while, felt whole again. When a team doesn't win championships its supporters tend to focus on those types of moral victories. But when the object of their affection is a player like Revis, it's not grasping at straws or inflating the value of a good player to offset the reality that he's all the team has.
Revis was -- and still is -- that good.
Not only does Revis' return restore some normalcy to a franchise that has missed the playoffs four straight seasons -- in concert with a bunch of other moves Maccagnan has already made -- it makes the Jets a lot better.
Sure, this team will never do anything of significance until it figures out the quarterback situation. We all know it. But, while the Jets brainstorm their next move at the most important position on the field -- and we all know there aren't many they can make at this point that will make that much of a difference in 2015 -- they are also fast-tracking the remaking of their entire roster, and they are doing it smartly.
Who knows? If the franchise quarterback ends up being Marcus Mariota, or Geno Smith one day unzips himself and steps out as Drew Brees, it's possible the Jets will already have all the other pieces in place.
Maccagnan is the anti-Idzik. He's playing the game the way it is supposed to be played, as opposed to reinventing the wheel and hiding piles of cash under mattresses.
First he traded for Brandon Marshall to team with Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley at wide receiver, a position where the Jets haven't had anyone put up 1,000 yards since 2007. Whoever ends up starting at quarterback won't have excuses to fall back on like my own personal favorite from a few years ago -- nobody can get separation -- because those three, plus tight end Jace Amaro, figure to be open all the time.
Maccagnan re-signed linebacker David Harris, a player who still has a lot to offer and who, unlike Revis, will likely end up being a career Jet. There aren't many of them of note, so believe me when I tell you it would be an accomplishment and he will be treated with a lot of reverence going forward as a result, especially if he continues to live up to his nickname, "the Hitman."
Then there was the tweaking of the offensive line with the addition of veteran guard James Carpenter. The former first round pick of the Seahawks may not remind anyone of Alan Faneca any time soon, but he's better -- or at least has the potential to be better -- than any alternative the Jets had prior to the beginning of the signing period.
The same can be said of cornerback Buster Skrine, the 5-foot-9 supposed hardest working guy in the room during his time in Cleveland who will likely get some serious playing time alongside Revis, which loosely translated means he's going to be a busy man because no one throws at No. 24 anyway.
And the Jets are not done. They still have ample cap space to add more pieces on both sides of the ball. Now I understand people don't get all warm and fuzzy about the idea of Ryan Fitzpatrick being inserted into the mix to fight Smith for the starting quarterback job, but the Jets could have done a lot worse considering who is available or realistic to acquire.
But without Revis in the fold, most of the moves the Jets have made and are contemplating making feel obligatory, and not necessarily like they are going to hasten the franchise's pursuit of respectability and contention. Revis, Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson and likely Damon Harrison are a tremendous base to build the defense off of, when you consider new head coach Todd Bowles employs the same types of blitzing schemes as his predecessor, Rex Ryan.
It really only looks like the Jets handed Revis a blank check. The reality is after the first two years of the deal the cap hit is very manageable. Revis will essentially get $48 million over the first three years, and then if Father Time catches up to him, the Jets can make whatever decision they need to make without fear of their entire salary structure plunging into chaos.
This was a no-brainer move. It restored the fans' belief in the Jets' front office. And while a lot of people view Woody Johnson as aloof or out of touch, the fact remains that he looks better today than he did last week. By inadvertently tampering with Revis, he tipped off the fan base that things would be different this time.
And they are. I'm not saying the Jets are winning a championship any time soon, but they are on the road back from ruin.
And Darrelle Revis, the guy who never should have left in the first place, is happy, motivated and driving the bus.
Read more columns by Jeff Capellini and follow him on Twitter at @GreenLanternJet
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