The sorry state of the Jets franchise today -- which resulted in the trade of their best player, Darrelle Revis -- is a direct consequence of their approach to managing relationships with their top players including negotiating contracts with high-draft picks, whether it be the first, second or third contract. From the outset, the time of Revis' rookie contract, the Jets negotiated voidable years which shortened the usual (then) 6 year contract for a top 15 pick. (Mercifully, they don't get to make this mistake this year thanks to a rookie wage scale, which does their work for them). Then, they succumbed to a threat of a holdout while Revis had two more years to go on his rookie contract. The entire management including ownership went hat in hand to negotiate with Revis in his hometown where he was holed up. Johnson, the owner, was assisted by coach Ryan who verbally built up Revis as an indispensable franchise player. They then tore up his remaining rookie contract with a new 4 year deal which explicitly prohibited the Jets from franchising him ever. That is a rare unbelievable waiving of a future right for a team to forgo. So despite signing a second contract worth $50 million dollar/4 years after year 3 of his original rookie contract -- Revis knew he had the Jets where he wanted them. Behind the 8th ball. He made sure they understood that his demands would be such that he was inevitably going to leave after this year. By contrast, it is hard to see BB and Kraft ever agreeing to either the original Revis rookie deal (which shortened the duration he was under contract) or ever agreeing to re-negotiate once Revis began a holdout. When was the last time, BB ever negotiated with a player/agent under duress. Branch comes to mind as a player who held out -- and was eventually traded. The usual practice is for the Pats to set parameters and if the player accepts, you have extensions (like the ones Gronk and Hernandez signed) or to insist the player play under the franchise tag (like Welker last year). When the Pats sign players to extension, they are real extensions. They do NOT tear up rookie contracts -- rather they add years to the original contract which the player still has to fulfill. Beyond the contract, BB and Kraft are masters of managing relationships with key players based on mutual respect, merit and fairness. It is the intangibles of handling relations with players that help differentiate the Pats and explain why the Pats are a top franchise. It also helps shape player expectations, attitudes and values for the team. So, in dealing with Mankins (where the negotiations were pretty rancorous and public), both sides managed to arrive at a fair agreement. The same was true with Wilfork, though the going was smoother because of BB's obvious public praise of his DT. There are examples when the Pats approach has not worked -- in part because a handful of specific players had a widely different expectation of their own worth. Beyond Branch, the more recent examples include Wes Welker (who found the Pats moved on rapidly rather than wait for him to back off his high expectation) and Richard Seymour, who was traded with a year left on his contract. By and large, the Patriots way has led to retention of bedrock players at prices the team could afford. Mayo signed his extension without much fanfare or fuss. Most prominently, Brady showed his own greatness in recognizing the value of retiring as a Patriots in what was a really team friendly extension of 3 more years @9 million/year. Peyton Manning or Drew Brees must have choked when they heard of Brady's deal. Indeed, old man Favre was making $16 million to $20 million/year for the last 3 years of postponing retirement. All Brady had to do was refuse to sign the extension. After the 2014 season, he was a FA. Certainly, some team would have given him, (a first ballot Hall of Famer) a 4 year $100 million deal to lift their franchise's profile in the NFL. (perhaps even the Jets or the Bills...) All this leads me back to Revis. In a season where the CB market for top FAs was $5 to 6 million/year (Sean Smith signed for $16.5 million/3 years; Talib $5 million/1 year; Rodgers-Cromartie $5 million/1 year), it is urprising to see the Bucs lavish Revis with $16 million/year contract for 6 years. That is a player coming off an ACL injury-- and one who has to prove himself. At worst, Revis expects to get $32 million for first 2 years. More realistically, given inertia, The Bucs will keep him for 3 years at cost of $48 million. Doubt any other team would have given Revis a FREE AGENT contract approaching the amount the Bucs are paying him. (Not to speak of the two high draft picks they are giving up to the Jets for the privilege of signing Revis) And while the Bucs have the salary cap space today, they may be setting themselves up for the same kind of failure with Revis that the Jets put themselves in a few years ago. In a team sports, no single player can be an island. When a single player eats up a hugely disproportionate % of the salary cap, the whole team suffers. Even QBs are not exempt from this. The Colts got rid of Manning to rebuild their team. The Jets traded Revis today for the same reasons. Yet, teams keep repeating the same mistakes sometimes with the very same players. When a player demands to be paid as a superstar, you have to make sure you can still field a high quality team. Otherwise, you have a Larry Fitzgerald who gets paid but he will never play in January or in the SuperBowl. Players make their choice. Wise teams (ownership/management) make theirs. Results are visible for all to see. On this score, I think the Patriots have it right. Belichick, Kraft and the Pats players deserve praise.