Darrelle Revis said he has nothing to prove to anyone, including his former employer, a day after the All-Pro cornerback was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the New York Jets.
Revis, speaking at an introductory news conference at the team’s headquarters in Tampa, Florida, said today that since learning he was being shopped to other National Football League franchises by the Jets in February, it felt “like the team is giving up on you.”
“It’s a blessing how highly this organization looks at me,” Revis said. “It didn’t happen in New York for some reason.”
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.
The trade is the most significant step by Jets General Manager John Idzik to rebuild a franchise that missed the NFL playoffs the past two seasons.
In a move that ended 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.
“Mine is unique in a way, but I have to play,” Revis said of his contract. “I have to play ball and I have to go out there and perform. The contract will take care of itself.”
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.”
Calling it a “rare and unique opportunity,” Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik said he had doubts the deal would ever be completed until the day it was.
“When you think of those players of this magnitude that get traded ever, it doesn’t happen very often,” Dominik said at the televised news conference. “There were times I wasn’t sure this was going to happen. I never fully believed that way until I actually received the trade papers.”
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 before the trade was completed.
Today he declined to get into specifics about when he’ll be able to join his new team on the field.
“We’re not going to really get into the health issue right now,” Revis said. “I’m working as hard as I can.”
Revis said on Twitter yesterday that his six years with the Jets were “unbelievable.”
“I put my body on the line every day and did everything I could to help the team win,” he said in a Twitter post. “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 today reads “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 trying 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 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 leave to take the same job with the Buffalo Bills. They also cut linebacker Bart Scott.
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.”
Revis, for his part, today also preferred to look forward.
“We’re not going to compare the two organizations,” he said.