The article on CBSSports.com is time-stamped at 7:28 p.m. ET on Jan. 23, 2013. The author is Jason La Canfora. The headline: "Jets Owner Woody Johnson to Explore Trading Darrelle Revis."
Reading it, and seeing that time stamp, is like looking at a pocket watch reading 2:28, the moment the Titanic completely sunk.
The sentence you are now reading was written at 5:28 p.m. on April 20, 2013, roughly 20 minutes after the final terms of Revis's trade to the Buccaneers were announced. History will remember this day as the conclusion of nearly three months of speculation, confusion, poor communication and indecision. But history rounds things off. It has been 87 days, almost exactly 2,086 hours. It took 125,160 minutes to complete a trade that should have been hammered out in a few days, with terms a talk radio caller could have dreamed up while waiting on hold. A first-round pick this year, plus a conditional third- or fourth-rounder in 2014 (likely third), for an All-Pro cornerback: It really took a quarter of a year to settle on that?
Let's start with the trade analysis, and keep it brief. The Buccaneers just got an outstanding player at a position of need in exchange for the 13th pick in the draft and some future considerations. Revis is better than any player the Buccaneers could have drafted. He will be better than any of those players for the foreseeable future. Buccaneers fans have worries about Revis' injuries and his perceived malcontent attitude. As for the injury, Revis at 90-percent capacity is still one of the three or four best cornerbacks in the NFL. As for the attitude: Revis is not a malcontent, he's a Jet. St. Francis of Assisi would start griping about money after six weeks in that locker room.
As for the Jets, I was convinced they would get far less for Revis. Their 2,086-hour standoff, poisonous relationship with the former All-Pro, and guano-crazy front office culture left them with little leverage. The Jets basically walked into negotiations wearing "Lowball Us!" T-shirts, and the Buccaneers essentially did. That they came away with a first-round pick, without having to surrender a second-round pick or something else of value, is a testament to their willingness to play chicken with the Buccaneers. The Jets can now use two first-rounders to reshape their roster. They could even trade those picks to move into the top five, or to slide down from the 10th slot to amass a huge portfolio of rookies to overhaul their lineup.
On second thought, at the rate they make decisions, the Jets could only make another major trade if the draft were postponed until August.
The Revis Timeline Part 1. Instead of analyzing the trade itself, which is fairly straightforward, let's breakdown the last 2,086 hours in the history of Darrelle Revis, which have been anything but.
Where were you on Jan. 23 at 7:38 p.m.? I was in Mobile for Senior Bowl week, probably
drinking beer typing up scouting notes. The Ravens and 49ers were preparing to travel to New Orleans for the Super Bowl. Revis was in Arizona rehabbing his ACL injury; he did not respond to the La Canfora story (which went nationwide almost immediately) until 2:08 p.m. the next day, via Twitter. "I'm speechless by far but more importantly I feel upset for the jet nation for having to go through this!!!" he wrote, speechless becoming the buzzword of the week. "I guess we'll see how this plays out," he added a moment later. We sure did.
Jets General Manager John Idzik was still adjusting his desk chair. He was hired on Jan. 18. His first official press conference was Jan. 24, hours after the La Canfora story. It was as if owner Woody Johnson chummed the shark-infested water before their fresh-from-Seattle executive dove in. "I think it's way premature to say anything specific," Idzik said when asked about Revis. "I think it would be presumptuous to say anything on that."
Sometime later on Jan. 24, Idzik called Revis. "I reached out to Darrelle and I made sure he knew exactly where we were coming from and that this is my first day on the job, and our message to everyone was, 'Give us a chance to get to know each other and introduce ourselves to each other,' " Idzik told Pro Football Talk. There was something plaintive in the tone of Idzik's words, both when speaking to PFT and later when discussing the same events at the combine. I just sat down for heaven's sake, I haven't even had my coffee yet. Idzik was destined to play Dagwood Bumstead to Johnson's J.C. Dithers for the next 2,000 hours or so, and frankly there is little evidence that things will get better soon.
While Idzik did his best to douse the trade story, CBSSports.com quoted unnamed general managers who anticipated a "gold rush" for Revis. Revis needed a new contract, and teams needed assurance that he was on schedule to return from ACL surgery, but he was the caliber of player who merited multiple high draft choices in the past.
Those first 72 hours or so were a whirlwind: sudden trade rumors, contentious tweets, provocative non-denials by a new general manager, heart-to-heart phone calls, rumblings of a potential bidding war. Then, the Super Bowl happened. The Jets went underground as Idzik began the process of learning everyone's name; the national media turned its attention to the big game and deer antler spray. Revis surfaced in an NFL Network interview in mid-February to explain the "speechless" remark, as if that was the kind of remark that needs explaining. "I was speechless because I didn't get a phone call. I know it's a business -- just call me. Don't have it lingering out there." A few days later, Revis got involved in a Twitter war with Richard Sherman. "I never seen a man before run his mouth so much like a girl. This dude just steady putting my name in his mouth to get notoriety," Revis tweeted. Maybe this was all just a hyperactive New York rumor, after all.
The Revis saga rebooted in a few days later when Idzik and Rex Ryan performing the "Who's On First" routine at the NFL Scouting Combine. It was Feb. 22, almost exactly a month after the Revis rumor surfaced. "We have always wanted Darrelle as part of our team. That hasn't changed," Idzik said. "There have been rumors or stories published, and it's hard for me or anyone in our organization to speculate or respond to all the stories that we hear," he said. "There's a lot of 'what ifs' that we will be discussing," he said. Ryan said that the Revis rumors were dreamed up by fantasy football players. He said they had "no validity." He said that the Jets would only listen to offers if a player like Jim Brown were involved.
Quotes cannot do justice to Jets Hour in Indianapolis two months ago. Idzik would begin his answer to a Revis question with a denial, but after about 20 seconds it slushed around his mouth and spilled out as a guilty admission. Another reporter would ask the same question, worded differently, and Idzik would step on the same verbal rake and whack himself in the head with its handle.
While Idzik denied (sort of) the Revis rumors and Ryan wrote them off as fantasy, Idzik actively shopped Revis to several teams, according to a New York Daily News report (and, frankly, everything all of us heard in Indy that week). That report did not specify the teams. Jason Cole of Yahoo reported on Feb. 27 that the 49ers were one of the teams in the Revis running. It's safe to assume that the Mark Dominik and the Bucs also spoke to Idzik that week, 60 days ago.
The 49ers quickly denied interest. Idzik, meanwhile, denied that he was doing anything. "Darrelle is a very valued player on our team. Our focus is squarely on getting him healthy, getting him back to his level of play," he said in a conference call with Jets season ticket holders on Monday, March 4.
Revis responded in a video interview: "I'm a competitor. I'm always trying to compete, whether it's on or off the field. This hit home. This definitely hit home. Especially being one of the best players out there and come to find out you're getting shopped."
Halftime. Let's take a moment now, at about the halfway point of this saga, to ponder communication, and the lack thereof. There is nothing unusual or sinister about the Jets lying or shell-gaming the media about their Revis intentions. Lying to the media about a trade is about as dishonest as faking a handoff. This isn't politics. Spreading disinformation is just part of the brinksmanship of competition.
Lying ineffectually and feebly, however, did not reflect well on Idzik or the organization. The inability to get Revis "on message" was also distressing and revealing. While Idzik was doing his "nothing to see here" routine, the 49ers and Chiefs had already executed the Alex Smith trade. The Percy Harvin trade was just a few days away. Both were complex deals involving important players who had strained relationships with their teams, but they got done with a minimum of he-said, he-said. The Harvin deal established a compensation level which Revis should have easily topped. But the Jets were busily souring their relationship with Revis, creating a point of no return which undermined their own position. And they were just warming up.
Trapped in Woody's Closet: The Revis Timeline Part 2. A New York Daily News article by Manish Mehta on March 6 listed the 49ers and Falcons as "legitimate buyers" for Revis' services. "Sources told The News that a few shoppers for the cornerback have already made it clear that they are willing to dole out draft choices and set the parameters for a long-term deal with the Revis camp to get arguably the best defensive player in the NFL," Mehta wrote. The tone of the article suggests that the Jets were expecting a huge payday, and Mehta speculated that they would wait until the week before the draft to get "maximum trade value."
But Jason Cole reported a different situation on March 10: The Jets were not giving Revis' agents an opportunity to contact other teams or set up physicals so suitors could gauge the status of his rehab. All the Jets wanted to talk about is what the Jets were getting. "If I'm making this deal, there's a lot of stuff I need to know," Cole quoted an executive as saying. "But I talk to the Jets and they're like, 'OK, what are you offering?' I can't begin to figure it out."
Instead of building a market for Revis, the Jets were destroying it. The "gold rush" became a trickle of "legitimate buyers" who became frustrated consumers. After the Harvin trade, Pro Football Talk wrote that the Jets had a "good offer" for Revis; that offer was later confirmed to have originated with the Buccaneers. Mehta reported on March 12 that a trade would occur "in the coming days and at the right price." That was 40 days ago. The Jets work at the speed of biblical floods.
Lots of Revis-Bucs news surfaced on March 11 and 12. The Bucs were offering a second-round pick -- hardly a gold rush. The Jets were not communicating with Revis' agents about the contract terms the Bucs were offering; the Bucs and Revis' people had to risk contract tampering allegations to discuss the new contract that would be the lynchpin of any trade. Meanwhile, the New York Post published an article claiming that the Jets were not "actively shopping Revis." You might think that they took the story from a phone message they had not checked in five weeks, but Idzik went on record at the league meeting on March 17: "I expect Darrelle Revis to be a New York Jet." Woody Johnson claimed that he was open to the idea of a contract extension, and somehow managed to keep a straight face. Ryan repeated the new party line, same as the old party line, a day later.
The Bucs responded to this cavalcade of nonsense by opening negotiations with Brent Grimes.
And so it went. March rolled on, and the Revis picture became clear. The Bucs were the only suitors. The compensation would be considerably less than Herschel Walker-sized. The Jets were taking a weird, passive-aggressive obstructionist approach to the negotiations. The story cooled in late March. Grimes signed with the Dolphins on March 30. Ian Rapoport reported on NFL Network on April 4 that Revis was "not optimistic" about a deal with the Bucs getting done. Cole reported on April 8 that the Bucs had upped their offer to first-, third- and sixth-round picks, and that the team had grown impatient. Several sources reported that the Jets still wanted more. Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk began to speculate that the Revis deal would not happen until the Buccaneers were actually on the clock in the first round of the draft. I believed the same thing: The Bucs would wait to see who was available with the 13th pick, or pull the trigger once Dee Milliner and Xavier Rhodes (the top two cornerbacks in the class) left the board.
The only thing the Revis saga lacked as of two weeks ago was a quarterback controversy. Luckily, Mark Sanchez's name came up as part of a compensation package in a wild April 12 rumor. How on earth would that have worked out? Sanchez would only make sense if NFL trades were like NBA trades, with their guaranteed contract dumps. The rumor was quickly squelched.
The Jets reportedly pressed the "pause button" on Revis talks on April 15. Sal Paolantonio of ESPN coined the term. What exactly was in motion and in need of being "paused" was anyone's guess. The Jets asking price for Revis had become first, third, and fifth round picks in this year's draft. Note how similar this price was to what the Bucs offered on April 8. The Jets had successfully waited out the Buccaneers when only a second-round pick and change were on the table, but now things were headed in reverse.
News of an impending deal broke on Sunday morning. Details leaked through the day. The Jets got less from the Bucs on Sunday than they would have gotten on April 8, assuming Cole's sources were accurate. A conditional third-round pick in 2014 is worth less than a third-rounder this year, for the same reason that the promise of $100 next year is not worth as much as $100 now. The Jets jumped out of the boat just as the tide was beginning to sweep it away. Had they waited until draft night, they may well have had to give the Bucs something besides Revis to get that 13th pick. Maybe a seventh-rounder. Maybe a pick in 2014. Anything but Sanchez.
Revis Postpartum. Soon after the baby is born, the 17 hours of labor are either forgotten or reimagined as a life-affirming experience, not extended torture. That's the case here. Before we forget all of the details, we should ask if this trip really necessary?
Had Johnson waited for Idzik to collect his luggage, had Idzik had a chance to speak to Revis and his agents, had everyone gotten on the same page, the Jets could have retained the leverage that came with the possibility that they could simply hold on to Revis.
Had the Jets dealt logically with trade suitors, permitting contact with Revis' agents and sharing health information, they would not have scared the 49ers and Falcons away, and might well have attracted other suitors.
The Jets would have gotten more for Revis in early March than they got on Sunday if they had handled negotiations the way professional organizations handle negotiations. That's clear from all of the "gold rush" and "dole out draft choices" remarks made from January through early March. The Jets limited their own market, then drove the price back up as high as they could with a month of hold-our-breath-till-we-turn-blue tactics. Had Grimes signed with the Buccaneers instead of the Dolphins at the end of March, the Jets would be in a completely untenable situation right now. The Dolphins did the Jets a favor: That's one of the least crazy events in the entire Revis saga, which says a lot.
In the end, Idzik managed to squeeze through the room full of red-laser sensors without triggering any of the booby traps. Revis and the Bucs are happy. Antonio Cromartie, whose constant commentary over the last three months would have run this story's length to 9,000 words, is bummed. Woody Johnson appears to be growing increasingly impossible to deal with. The scuttlebutt says that this trade is the beginning of Rex Ryan's end, and it is hard to refute. Jets beat writers got a three-month respite from Tebow coverage; I don't have to call and ask any of them to know that it felt nothing like a vacation.
All that's left for us to do is get ready for REVIS REVENGE when the Bucs face the Jets in Week 1, and to write refrigerator poetry about the 2,084-hour vigil we kept outside the Jets bunker.
I guess we'll see how this plays out.
It's my first day on the job.
Don't have it lingering out there.
I've never seen a man before run his mouth so much.
OK, What are you offering?
I cannot begin to figure it out.
(The last two quotes taken from Revis' Twitter account on Sunday night.)
On the Clock
There is lots of draft coverage sitting in my hard drive right now, waiting to be edited and sent to the Tailgater blog. The Revis story forced the prospects to take a back seat on Mandatory Monday, but you better believe that there will be plenty of draft coverage over the next few days.
Big names like Manti Te'o, Tyler Eifert and E.J. Manuel are in the queue for the early part of the week. While they cook, catch up on some coverage you might have missed last week, including a two-part series on the quarterbacks, and running backs and receivers who are likely to make Friday a much more interesting day for draft watchers than Thursday. Also, a Shel Silverstein poem about Dion Jordan.
Sports on Earth will be at Radio City Music Hall, of course. Join me on Twitter, and during a live first-round blog on Thursday night. True draft lovers follow anywhere from five to 500 draft analysts on Thursday night, and I'm a delicious part of that nutritious breakfast. And not the Sugar Blasted Ritalin Bombers cereal, either: I'm like the stack of whole-wheat toast with melted butter, or the half grapefruit.
Draft season is the best season of the year for football fans, except for football fans. Even the Jets are ready for the draft now, so the rest of us have no excuses. Join me and enjoy the hoopla all week long.