What a crazy, crazy business, the NFL.
Two years ago, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson succumbed to Island fatigue -- Darrelle Revis' annual contract headaches -- and traded his best player. It was the "correct" decision, Johnson said at the time.
Now, after giving him the cold shoulder again last offseason, Boss Jet is determined to bring Revis home. Word is that Johnson hasn't been this fired up about a star search since the Summer of Favre, 2008, when the Jets traded for the Green Bay gunslinger. Barring an 11th-hour deal with the New England Patriots, the All-Pro cornerback will be a free agent at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday.
And it wouldn't be a surprise if the Jets call at 4:01.
There are many reasons why they're infatuated with Revis. Some of it's ego, the desire to steal a key piece from the Super Bowl champions. Some of it's marketing, trying to generate electricity for a team that lacks sizzle and needs credibility. We're talking about a lot of ulterior motivation, but here's the bottom line: The Jets are desperate for a No. 1 corner and Revis still is among the best in the league.
Seems like a pretty natural fit, doesn't it? Rarely in free agency does a team get a chance to fill its greatest need with an elite talent. If the opportunity comes along, you grab it.
The cornerback market already is thinned out after three days of "legal tampering" (what a crock), so the Jets' options are a one-year wonder (Chris Culliver) and a couple of over-30 guys (Antonio Cromartie and Cary Williams).
Revis will be 30 in July, but he's coming off a strong season -- his fourth All-Pro selection. The inevitable decline will start at some point, but at least you know what you're getting in Revis. You'd rather overpay for Revis than dole out $10 million-a-year for a No. 2 corner like Byron Maxwell. Yep, the Philadelphia Eagles got suckered into committing the Cardinal sin of free agency: Never pay big bucks for a complementary player on a championship team, thinking you can elevate him to a lofty role. It rarely works.
The Jets will have to overpay to lure Revis away from King William and the Knights of Lombardi, but they're in a unique position because they have an estimated $45 million in cap space (before cutting Percy Harvin) and they don't have a mega-quarterback contract on the horizon. (Honestly, though. If you're Revis, why would you leave Tom Brady if the offers are close?)
Two years ago, the Jets made the right move by trading Revis, but that was a different time. The team was in cap hell, the league's cap was flat and Revis was coming off major knee surgery. Now he's healthy, the cap is up to $143 million and the Jets don't have any onerous contracts on the books.
There's risk, of course. It goes against the grain to give a 30-year-old, non-quarterback a whopper of a contact (Revis could be looking for $40 million in guarantees from the Jets), but they're a desperate team with cap money to burn. Other than Muhammad Wilkerson, they don't have any star players that need to be re-upped until 2017, when Sheldon Richardson's contract could be addressed.
So go ahead, Woody, knock yourself out. Go get Revis.
And don't forget the checkbook.