Darrelle Revis was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the New York Jets in the most significant step by General Manager John Idzik to rebuild a Jets franchise that missed the National Football League playoffs the past two seasons.
In a move that ends months of speculation about his future, Revis agreed to a six-year contract with the Buccaneers, who didn’t disclose financial terms. NFL.com said the total value is $96 million and includes no guaranteed money, a deal that makes the cornerback one of the NFL’s highest-paid non-quarterbacks.
The Jets get the Buccaneers’ first-round pick in this week’s draft -- the 13th overall -- along with a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft. Idzik had faced questions about Revis’s future with the team since being hired in January after the firing of Mike Tannenbaum.
“It was never our goal to have Darrelle leave the Jets,” Idzik said last night on a conference call. “We wanted Darrelle to remain a Jet for the long term, ideally, but Tampa reached out. They expressed a sustained and sincere interest. We ultimately came to the conclusion that this was the best thing to do for the Jets at this time.”
Revis, 27, has emerged as one of the best defensive players in the league since being selected in the first round of the 2007 draft. An All-Pro choice in three of his first five seasons, Revis played only two games last year before tearing a knee ligament. He went through a series of medical tests yesterday in Tampa, Florida, before the trade was completed.
“The six years I played for the New York Jets were unbelievable,” Revis posted on Twitter. “I put my body on the line every day and did everything I could to help the team win. I experienced a lot and learned a lot. The memories I had in New York I will keep dearly to my heart.”
The Jets relied on Revis’s one-on-one coverage skills to shut down opponents’ top receivers. His ability to limit the NFL’s best pass catchers earned him the nickname “Revis Island,” a phrase he trademarked.
The home page of the Buccaneers’ website last night read “Treasure Island” in welcoming Revis to the team.
The Buccaneers, who went 7-9 last season in Greg Schiano’s first season as coach, have been looking to upgrade their secondary and this offseason signed free agent safety Dashon Goldson, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, to a five-year contract the Tampa Bay Tribune said is worth $41 million.
Tampa Bay, which allowed an NFL-high 4,758 passing yards last season, visits the Jets on Sept. 8 in the opening week of the NFL’s regular season, giving Revis the opportunity to face his former team. The Buccaneers said they’ll introduce Revis at a news conference later today.
The Jets were almost $20 million over the NFL’s cap on player salaries when Idzik was hired in January and risked losing Revis without compensation as an unrestricted free agent after the 2013 season, when he was due $6 million.
“We deliberated for quite a while because I know it’s important to our fans, and it’s important to us,” Jets owner Woody Johnson said. “We wanted to come up with a decision that was the best for the New York Jets. That’s the decision we arrived at. And I think it was the correct one.”
The Jets will now have two of the first 13 picks in the April 25-27 draft, having previously owned the ninth selection. The only other time the Jets had two of the draft’s top 13 picks was in 2000, when they took defensive ends Shaun Ellis and John Abraham with the 12th and 13th overall selections.
“We’re going to get some very valued players,” said Idzik, who was previously with the Seahawks, where he primarily managed the salary cap and handled contract negotiations. “They’re going to help us in years to come.”
New York’s 2014 selection from Tampa Bay will become a third-round choice if Revis is on the Buccaneers’ roster on the third day of the NFL’s 2014 league year. Idzik said Revis’s knee injury had an effect on compensation.
“It definitely muddies the water a little bit,” Idzik said. “If we had the luxury of time, if we had the luxury of Darrelle not having been injured, not having gone through rehab, then I think things would be a lot clearer both from our standpoint and in the case of potential trade suitors.”
The Jets had a combined 14-18 record the past two seasons following back-to-back appearances in the American Football Conference championship game. In addition to Tannenbaum, the Jets fired offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh, and had defensive coordinator Mike Pettine take the same job with the Buffalo Bills. They also cut linebackers Bart Scott and Calvin Pace.
The Jets’ rebuilding now includes parting ways with their best defensive player.
“Darrelle Revis was an outstanding player for us,” Ryan said. “I believe that he is the best corner in football without question. But make no mistake, we will play great defense and the standard we’ve set as the New York Jets will not be diminished.”