It came down to money.
Explaining perhaps the biggest trade in franchise history, New York Jets general manager John Idzik said Sunday the decision to trade cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was based largely on what they perceived as an insurmountable gap in contract discussions.
"It became quite evident to us there was a substantial difference between Darrelle's view of his value and ours," Idzik said on a conference call with reporters.
Idzik said it would've taken a contract "of historical proportions" to keep Revis, who had one year remaining on his contract. Revis already was the league's highest-paid cornerback at $11.5 million per year, and he refused to come off his demand for $16 million a year, according to a source.
That's exactly what Revis received from the Bucs -- a six-year, $96 million contract, although it contains no guaranteed money.
He would've signed the same deal with the Jets, a source said, but they never made an offer. Owner Woody Johnson was philosophically opposed to paying that much for a non-quarterback, sources said. Idzik said "it became abundantly clear to us" the two sides never would reach a compromise.
This was a controversial trade for the Jets because Revis is considered one of the top players in franchise history, the last true star on a rebuilding team. They received the Bucs' first-round choice (13th overall), plus a conditional fourth-round pick in 2014 that almost certainly will become a third-rounder.
Idzik said it was "very hard" to trade Revis, but he cited several reasons, namely the contract situation and his surgically repaired knee. Revis is six months removed from ACL surgery, which created "a degree of uncertainty," Idzik said.
"We were optimistic the outcome would be positive, but until you go through it, you never know for sure," he said.
Idzik admitted Revis' injury "muddied the waters" in terms of generating interest around the league. The Bucs were the only known suitor.
The aftermath likely will produce a he said-he said, as both sides scramble to win the public relations battle. Idzik claimed there was mutual interest in signing Revis to a long-term deal, but that feeling never was conveyed to the Revis camp, sources said.
Johnson told confidantes back in January that he had no hope of re-signing Revis and that the organization should explore a trade, sources said.
The Jets, in damage control, insisted they wanted to keep him.
"It was never our intent to proactively go out and shop Darrelle," Idzik said. "It was never our goal to have Darrelle leave the Jets. On the contrary, we wanted Darrelle to remain a Jet for the long term, ideally. But Tampa reached out and displayed a sincere and sustained interest. As you get closer to the draft, those talks become more real."
The Jets own the ninth and 13th picks Thursday, the first time since 2000 that a team has two picks in the top 13. They're clinging to the hope that the two picks (if they keep them) will accelerate the rebuilding process. They own eight picks total.
"We're committed to putting a team on the field that is a winning team, and doing it in a deliberate and sound way," Johnson said. "I'm encouraged. I think we've got some young players that will get better and we have an opportunity to pick up some players in the draft. I'm extremely optimistic."
Rex Ryan, a possible lame-duck coach, wasn't on board with the trade when the idea was hatched, sources said. Now that it's reality, Ryan mustered up some of his old bravado, insisting, "We will continue to play great defense." But he didn't sound convincing.
Asked if the trade will make them better, Ryan stammered a bit.
"Nobody can say if the trade made you better or made you worse," he said. "Are you talking about for one week? Talking about a season? Talking about the future? Nobody really knows. Nobody has the answer to that."
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie told the New York Daily News that "losing a guy like that sucks, it just sucks." Another player, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the team had little choice.
"I think we had to trade him," the player told ESPNNewYork.com. "You can't strap a team with Peyton Manning [contract] numbers for a cornerback. I respect Revis, he's a hell of a player, but you can find a cornerback on any street corner."