FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Darrelle Revis was walking toward his teammates on the practice field when a strange feeling came over him.
“I had butterflies,” the New York Jets’ cornerback said with a grin Monday.
For a guy who routinely shuts down opponents’ best wide receivers, the acknowledgment of insecurity was stunning.
“I didn’t know how my teammates were going to accept me,” Revis said, “because I haven’t been here for a month.”
After some loud, welcoming cheers and good-natured ribbing, Revis knew he was finally back home. He signed his four-year deal Monday afternoon, apologizing to fans for not getting back sooner and officially making his return after a 36-day holdout.
“It was a good feeling just to see the guys,” Revis said, “just wanting to be around them because I haven’t been here for a while.”
Revis agreed to a new contract late Sunday night and took an early morning flight Monday from his home in South Florida. He arrived at the Jets’ training facility after 1 p.m., rejoined his teammates and signed the deal.
“It was a long process,” he said. “It was rough on me. You know I’m a football player and I love to play the game and I’m happy it’s over with. I can go play football now.”
And, he’ll get started right away. Revis is expected to practice Tuesday and be ready to play in the season opener next Monday night against Baltimore.
“I do think we may play Revis, I’m not sure,” coach Rex Ryan quipped. “I think he might need to practice for several weeks before we play him, but don’t be shocked if he’s out there.
“In other words, he’s definitely playing.”
Revis said he has stayed in shape by working out during his holdout, but he acknowledges that he’s not necessarily in football shape.
“I haven’t had pads on and I haven’t had contact,” he said. “So that’s something I have to get back into and just take it slow in the process.”
The Jets and Revis’ agents declined to announce financial terms of the deal, but it is reportedly worth at least $46 million, including $32 million guaranteed. Revis said all along he wanted to be the highest-paid player at his position, something agent Jonathan Feinsod said the Jets cornerback would be – without releasing terms.
“The numbers would reflect in our minds that he’s being paid as the highest-paid cornerback,” Feinsod said.
After months of waiting and wondering about his future, the All-Pro cornerback was just happy to be back on the field.
“This experience humbled me so much just because I love to play football,” Revis said. “At one point, it was something that was taken away, that I love to do. I’ve never had anything taken away from me that I love to do. So this was a point in my life where it was serious.”
Perhaps the most crucial moment of the negotiations came Saturday, when both Ryan and owner Woody Johnson flew to South Florida to meet with Revis, mother Diana Gilbert and uncle and former NFL player Sean Gilbert to try to solve the contract impasse.
“It meant a lot to me,” Revis said, “to show the passion they have for me to come down to Florida and just chat with me and see if we can come to a common ground and both sides can see the right thing.”
Both the Jets and Revis’ agents spoke all weekend until reaching what general manager Mike Tannenbaum called “a breakthrough” before coming to an agreement around 11 p.m. Sunday night.
“I think the thing was, the season is upon us,” Johnson said. “It was basically, let’s see if we can leave this room with something.”
During the discussion with Revis, Johnson brought up the cornerback’s Hall of Fame potential.
“We talked about how important it is to keep on the right track,” Johnson said. “If he continues his progress, I think Hall of Fame and Darrelle Revis don’t sound like they’re a strange pair.”
Revis began his holdout Aug. 1, when the team reported for training camp in Cortland without him. Agent Neil Schwartz said the nearly $600,000 in fines Revis accrued for sitting out would be given to an undetermined charity.
Since early August, the team and Revis’ agents agreed to keep all negotiations confidential after things got testy through the media. With the silence came the fear that Revis could sit out the entire season, as his uncle once did.
“I didn’t think it was going to get done,” linebacker Bart Scott said. “I was preparing myself to go into the game without him. Thankfully, we got it figured out and I think we’re a better team because of it.”
Ryan said he heard Revis was at his New Jersey home a week or so ago, and drove there to try to meet with his star player. But, Revis wasn’t home. He also acknowledged storming out of a meeting room Sunday night in frustration while negotiations with Revis’ agents were being done over the phone.
“I was ripping everybody on both sides,” he said. “After I threw my little tantrum and the deal was getting done, they brought me back up.”
Revis made it to practice in time to address the team and break down the practice huddle, with NFL Films cameras capturing the moment for HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series. Some Jets players shouted, “Revis Christ!” at him, while others poked fun at Revis’ bushy beard.
“It was kind of funny,” safety James Ihedigbo said. “A bunch of guys started the Rudy clap, that nice slow clap, as he came out. We welcomed him with open arms.”
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