Analysis  

 

Darrelle Revis trade: Jets and Buccaneers both had to get it done

TAMPA, Fla. -- You can already see it coming, can't you?

You can see that pass by New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez zipping toward the sideline to open the 2013 season on Sept. 8, its fast flight energized by a year of new hope and new ambitions. You can see yourself following it in slow motion toward the hands of a receiver.

Then, you can spot cornerback Darrelle Revis -- on a familiar field but in an unfamiliar jersey -- sneaking into the frame, jumping the route and picking off a pass that forces faces into hands as MetLife Stadium inhabitants collectively wonder how the home team ever let him go to the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

So before it happens, before the Jets endure the potential pain of such a scenario on the season's opening Sunday, let's at least make something very clear: Don't blame Jets general manager John Idzik. Don't blame Revis. Don't blame the Bucs.

Blame the past. Blame an era of Jets football that is now in the rearview, even if the consequences of those times are still catching up with the organization.

After all, the Jets were out of options. They were handcuffed by their own past decisions, pushed into this position as a result of miscalculated moves made under their former general manager. They had nothing left to do but trade their superstar cornerback, and their superstar cornerback made a smart business decision to force their hand.

That's exactly how this closure of Darrelle Revis' chapter with the Jets deserves to be remembered: as an inevitability. Just like the eventual departures of Sanchez and Santonio Holmes. Just like the eventual losing record that will mark 2013.

Just don't blame Revis here. Don't blame greed or a lack of loyalty, or jump to any other conclusions that could be inspired by Idzik's assertion on Sunday that "there was a substantial difference between Darrelle's view of his value and ours."

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Darrelle Revis through the years

Take a look at the best photos of Darrelle Revis through the years.

The Jets couldn't offer the same contract that Tampa Bay provided him -- a six-year, pay-as-you-go deal worth $16 million per season with no guaranteed money -- because Revis never would have taken it. Revis knows the Bucs are very unlikely to cut him for at least two years because they've invested a first-round pick and a conditional third- or fourth-rounder. In New York, there'd be no such pressure on the Jets.

And so ultimately, it wasn't Revis' "view of his value" that sparked these differences between the Jets' negotiators and Revis' camp. It was the misguided moves of former GM Mike Tannenbaum and current owner Woody Johnson, who put together a terribly dumb deal that did nothing to secure their best player's future in New York.

Oh, sure, it's possible to also suggest that the Bucs overpaid for Revis -- that they gave up too much to get a player coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament. But Tampa Bay now has filled a massive void that kept it from having a successful season in 2012. A terrible pass defense is now on the brink of making a complete turnaround, which could mean the same for the entire organization. That's worth $16 million. That's worth a first-round pick this year and a conditional fourth-round pick next year that's likely to become a third.

And it was worth it for Revis to do this deal -- even without the guaranteed money, since in his own head, he strategically believes he's getting nearly the same "guaranteed" money ($32 million over the first two years, as the Bucs aren't likely to cut him) that the Jets gave him these past two seasons. Is Revis betting on himself? Sure, maybe a little. It's possible he might not be the same this season, but the Bucs still would likely give him 2014 to figure it out, since all sides could justify Revis taking another year to fully recover from his injury. It's also possible he could suffer another injury -- but even then, the Bucs would likely be willing to stand behind his rehabilitation rather than reach an expensive injury settlement.

That's why this deal works. It works because the Bucs now have the right cornerback to boost them into the conversation of divisional contenders in the NFC South. When you play an Atlanta Falcons offense that includes Julio Jones and Roddy White twice a season, you'd better have a secondary with some star power. And now, the Bucs do.

On Sunday, the day the trade went down, a source said everyone is fully expecting Revis to "absolutely" be ready to play in his Week 1 debut against the Jets in the Meadowlands. And while it might seem like the perfect opportunity for Revis to rebound, just remember, even if it's hard to see, that the Jets are attempting to rebound, as well.

This was inevitable. As inevitable as the pain Jets fans will likely feel on Sept. 8 as they watch their former superstar do to them what he has previously done to so many other teams. And while it's likely impossible to see, given how distant success currently feels, this was the right move for everyone involved.

For Revis. For the Bucs. And yes, even for the Jets.

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington.

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