The Jets' best player since Joe Namath won’t retire with the team as the Jets announced they had traded Darrelle Revis to the Buccaneers. The move, according to one team source “was a necessary evil.”
Considered the game’s premier cornerback, nicknamed “Revis Island” for the way he often marooned opposing wide receivers with his tight coverage, Revis was sent to Tampa Bay in a deal that netted the Jets the No. 13 pick in this week’s draft along with a conditional pick next year. Revis is coming off a season where he played just two games after a season-ending knee injury in Miami on Week 3.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a team source familiar with the trade said the Jets and general manager John Idzik had to make the move.
“You’re in this situation here where you are tight against the cap and you can’t do anything else. You don’t know if Revis will be here next year when he can opt out,” the source said. “So all of a sudden, you have the best player on the team prepared to walk to the highest suitor next year. You let that happen and your fan base may never forgive you. At least something was gotten out of this deal.”
When Idzik was officially introduced to the media in January, the preponderance of questions during his press conference focused on the future of Revis with the team. On Sunday night in a conference call with the New York media, Idzik said he didn’t want to trade away the Jets best player but that the deal made the Jets a better team.
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“Darrelle had a desire to remain a Jet for his career and I can share with you that we genuinely wanted to follow through with that desire, we shared that desire,” Idzik said on the call. “However, it’s not that simple as player wanting club and club wanting player. When it comes down to something of this magnitude, there are many factors involved.”
Complicating the Jets' desire to keep Revis long term was the chance he would become a flight risk. Idzik went so far as to say a long-term deal would have been incredibly difficult to achieve after this season, given the difference in what the player wanted to be paid and what the team could pay.
“It became quite evident to us that there was a substantial difference between Darrelle’s view of his value and ours,” Idzik said. “We felt that there would have to be a significant change on either side in order to create a path towards an agreeable deal for the long-term. You really to weigh that into the situation too.”
After this season, Revis was able to opt out of his contract with the Jets and become a free agent, leaving a team that was tight against the salary cap to look toward the future and deal their best player. According to reports, Revis signed a six-year contract with Tampa Bay worth $96 million.
A first-round pick of the Jets in 2007, Revis spent his entire career with the team until Sunday’s trade. He was an All-Big East selection in college at Pittsburgh where he was on the opposite sideline of former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano, now the head coach in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers were the only team willing to come to the table and pay the Jets' price of a first rounder this year.
“You have a player coming off a knee injury who wants to get paid next year and I think that despite how good Revis is, people are still scared off by that contract given to [Nnamdi] Asomugha by the Eagles a couple years ago and you see why many teams would be scared off by giving a cornerback that kind of big money,” the source said. “So it wasn’t like teams were lining up to pay the Jets price of a first-round pick this year. At the end of the day, Tampa Bay emerged as the team who wanted him and needed him. They needed an elite cornerback to take that next step in that division. They had the cap space to make it happen and the willingness to part with this year’s pick. Anything on top of that for this organization? Pure cheese and gravy as far as the Jets are concerned.”
In an ironic twist of scheduling, the Jets will host the Buccaneers in their season-opener at MetLife Stadium.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.