Jets on Abraham: SPIN CITY
By Mark Cannizzaro
Jets Insider.com Head Writer
August 2nd, 2005
That can best be described as spin control. And the Jets' spin cycle is on high at the moment with regard to Abraham. Inside the walls of Weeb Ewbank Hall, the Jets coaches and management alike are seething at not having Abraham in training camp.
Forget the "it's just the business side of the game'' mantra that comes from Herman Edwards and Terry Bradway. They're ticked off at not having Abraham in camp and they have a right to be.
Edwards and Bradway are playing it smart by taking the high road, because once they show one iota of anger toward Abraham it'll incite the news media and the questions will never stop.
By passing it off as a minor impasse, the Jets have thrown the media off the scent to some degree. After all, how many times have you read about Abraham's absence since the start of camp?
Fact is, though, Abraham is hurting himself and, more importantly, the team by opting not to sign that "franchise player'' tender offer of $6.67 million and showing up for camp.
Outside of a rookie who doesn't know the system, training camp is about as important for Abraham as anyone because of his injury history. He's missed 23 of 80 regular season games in his career, not to mention his controversial absence from last year's postseason.
If there's a single veteran on the Jets' roster who needs added workout supervision it's Abraham.
Through his agents, Abraham recently said that he was in great shape, that he was completely over the knee injury that sabotaged the latter part of his 2004 season and that he was working out with a personal trainer.
That, however, is nothing but lip service until he shows up and proves that he's over his injury and can play a full season for only the second time in his career without missing a game.
As it stands right now with the way he and his agents have positioned themselves, Abraham is setting himself up for failure and some warranted criticism.
When he comes back _ and he will be back the moment his absence begins to have an affect on his bank account _ if Abraham so much as misses a game with an ingrown toenail way he's going to be crucified.
This is a shame because Abraham is a good guy who not only had a pretty damn good year in 2004 before injuring his knee, but was unfairly depicted as a selfish player when he couldn't go for the playoffs.
When he talked frankly to reporters about being concerned about his future while trying to figure out when to come back and play it was unfairly spun that he was purposely not playing because he didn't want to ruin his chances of getting as big contract by getting hurt worse than he already was.
The team hung him out to dry by saying he was "cleared'' to play in the postseason when those in the know said Abraham was unable to practice.
Abraham, too, made a mistake when he told reporters that he would have "no problem'' if the team put the "franchise tag'' on him, saying that whatever the average salary of the top five players at his position would be ($6.67 million) would end up being a lot more money than he'd ever made.
Once the offseason arrived and Abraham saw the Jets throw some $5 million in guaranteed money at Laveranues Coles to reacquire him, he began to think differently. He, too, became concerned that the Jets would merely put the "franchise tag'' on him again after the 2005 season.
What should have taken place was some kind of verbal accord between Jets' management and Abraham that included a promise that they wouldn't franchise him a second time around.
Now the Abraham side has proposed to the Jets a similar deal to the one that Seattle signed its franchise player, running back Shaun Alexander, to: A one-year deal for 2005 with written promise that he would not be tagged with the franchise label again or traded somewhere he didn't authorize.
There, however, is likely too much acrimony between the two sides now for the Jets to offer that kind of freedom to Abraham.
The bottom line is this: Abraham should be here. It's best for him and it's best for the team. Making $6.67 million for a year's work isn't akin to flipping burgers over a hot grill or stocking shelves at the locker supermarket.
Abraham should come in, play a full season without injury, make another Pro Bowl and then he should get his big payday with some $18 million in guaranteed money. Shaun Ellis got some $16 million guaranteed. A season of health and a fourth Pro Bowl and Abraham will surely eclipse that.
Here's the way this scenario will play out: Abraham will be here signed and in uniform before his absence begins to start costing him money. He's certainly not going to forgo $6.67 million.
By Collective Bargaining rules, Abraham won't lose a dime of the $6.67 million deal he'll eventually sign unless he reports later than Sept. 5, which is the Tuesday before the regular season opener.
He'll likely arrive before that to get a preseason game or two in.
Still, though, he's created a very difficult situation for himself in that nearly every Jets follower will be lying in wait to say, "I told you so'' as soon as he gets hurt again.
One intriguing subplot to this mess is that Abraham is represented by Tony Agnone, who also happens to represent Jets' defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson.
You have to wonder if Henderson, who needs Abraham in camp, healthy and rushing the quarterback as much as anyone, is reaching out to Abraham through Agnone and urging him to get his butt into camp.
EXTRA POINT: BET ON LAW BEING A JET
In the other major issue that hovers over the Jets, much the way we expect Abraham to arrive in due time, we, too, expect to see former Patriots' Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law in a Jets' uniform before long.
Law, who's an unrestricted free agent and has worked out for the Jaguars and Lions, badly wants to play for the Jets for several reasons:
-He wants to play for Herman Edwards, who recruited him at Michigan while Edwards was coaching defensive backs in Tampa Bay.
-He's very intrigued about playing in New York.
- He knows the Jets are close to being a legit Super Bowl contender and believes he can make a difference.
- He'd love to play two regular-season games a year against his former team, New England. In fact, the Jets play the Patriots twice in the last five weeks, and Law can visualize himself helping to knock the Patriots out of the playoffs.
- He's very close with Curtis Martin, one of his best friends.
The primary issue here is money. He's said to want some $6 million per year. Thus far, no team has panicked and ponied up the cash. As time passes and Law has to come down with his salary demands, if all things are equal he'll be a Jet.
The only thing that could blow up in the Jets' face is if one of the other possible suitors gives Law what he wants financially. Law has a healthy ego and a high opinion of what he's worth.