Darrelle Revis saw the New York Jets as an ATM, and the Jets saw their star cornerback as a bargaining chip. No more, no less. It was strictly a business relationship -- ice cold from day one -- and that's why he's now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This marriage was doomed by greed and mismanagement. You put those two together and there's no chance for a "happily ever after" between player and team.
Everybody says you never trade your best player. In a perfect world, that's true, especially when your best player is only 27, still in his prime years. But this is a best player coming off major knee surgery and still rehabbing a shredded ACL. Yet, in his diminished state, he still wanted to be paid like a healthy, franchise quarterback.
The Jets had to make this trade, and they had to make it now, because they had a nice bird in the hand -- the Bucs' first-round draft pick, 13th overall. It would've been too risky to wait until after the draft because they probably would've lost their only suitor. The Bucs are clearly a desperate franchise willing to take a wild gamble.
Owner Woody Johnson decided, correctly, that it made little sense to pay $16 million a season for a cornerback, especially in a flat-cap era. There was no room for negotiation because Revis, Inc., and his hardline agents never were going to budge.
Technically, the Jets never offered a long-term contract, but you never walk into a Mercedes showroom unless you're willing to pay big. They knew the cost of doing business with Revis, Inc., and so they walked past the showroom without stepping in.
Revis, Inc., signed a six-year, $96 million contract with the Bucs to receive exactly $16 million in each season. Surprisingly, there's no guaranteed money, but there's a tacit guarantee of $32 million because Revis knows it'll be at least two seasons before he gets cut. The Bucs would never drop him after a season, not after surrendering a first-round pick.
He would've signed the same deal with the Jets, according to a source, but that deal didn't make sense for them. Think about it:
The salary-cap charge is $16 million per season -- 13 percent of this season's total cap. The franchise tag for a cornerback is $10.8 million, so the Jets would've been paying 150 percent of the franchise tender. Every season. You can't build a team that way.
Revis is good, but he's not that good.
Once they decided to pass, the Jets had two options: Let him play out the final season of his contract (and, in all likelihood, lose him for nothing in free agency) or trade him.
If the Jets were coming off a playoff season, with a roster built to win now, the right call would've been to keep Revis, take their chances with the contract and go for the ring.
The Jets were that team two seasons ago, but not anymore. They're rebuilding, and they saw Revis, Inc., as a chip – a "tremendous asset," according to general manager John Idzik. They decided to go to the cashier and see what they could get for that chip.
They didn't get what they wanted -- the 13th pick and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2014 that almost certainly will become a third-round choice. You can't have a bidding war with only one bidder.
Some people say the Jets without Revis resemble an expansion team, an instant contender for the No. 1 overall pick in 2014. Guess what? They would've been a bad team with him, too. Until they find an answer at quarterback, they'll always be an also-ran.
So the Jets made the right move under the circumstances, but it didn't have to be this way.
They missed an opportunity three years ago, during his summer-long holdout, to secure him with a long-term deal. The Jets had leverage, and they had the desire to make it happen, but they panicked as the season drew close. The result was the infamous Band-Aid contract, which included -- get this -- a no franchise-tag proviso.
They blew it again last year, turning a cold shoulder to Revis, Inc., when his agents made overtures about renegotiating. The Jets willingly let this play out until the final year of the deal, knowing they had no franchise-tag protection.
It was bad business.
Jets management and Revis' agents can't agree on anything. If they went on a movie date, they'd argue popcorn versus Raisinets. Did the Jets honestly think they'd be able to sit at the bargaining table -- after two holdouts in six years -- and agree on another contract?
When Revis blew out his knee last September, it changed the dynamic. It gave the Jets an out, an alibi for not wanting to keep their best player.
So, yes, the Jets deserve a lot of blame here, as does Revis. He made $55 million in six seasons and, no matter what he says, he pushed for this trade because he knew there was a pot of gold waiting in Tampa. And there's no state income tax on that gold, by the way.
Revis is heavily influenced by his uncle, former NFL defensive lineman Sean Gilbert, who once sat out an entire season because of a contract dispute. Clearly, the get-what-you're-worth mentality was passed down to Revis, whose legacy in New York will be tarnished by his holdouts and money grabs.
And that's sad because he truly is a once-in-a-generation player. The Jets, known for their spotty drafting, finally got it right with Revis. In 2007, they traded up knowing he was something special. They developed him, paid him handsomely and now this -- divorce.
It doesn't reflect well on the Jets. Or Revis.