Presumably, Jets general manager John Idzik came into his new job with his eyes wide open. Owner Woody Johnson made it clear whomever replaced Mike Tannenbaum wouldn't be able to fire coach Rex Ryan in 2013; and that, coupled with Mark Sanchez's guaranteed $8.25 million salary means there isn't much in the way of string-pulling Idzik can do to fix the current mess.
But this is the NFL, where a little planning, some deft personnel moves, and a lot of luck can see today's laughingstock turn into tomorrow's contender. Which brings us to Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who has not-so-secretly been on the trading block for weeks. The Buccaneers are the favorites to land him, but Sports Illustrated's Peter King writes that the holdup is the timing of the compensation.
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A source told King that if the Jets are willing, the Bucs would likely be willing to give up their 2014 first- and second-round picks. That's a haul for a cornerback still recovering from an ACL injury. Except that Idzik has yet to pull the trigger on the move because, in King's estimation, the Jets GM is looking for 2013 draft picks, specifically the Bucs' 13th overall selection as well as an additional choice.
Hence the impasse.
But the Bucs, who appear to be the Jets' only suitor for Revis, aren't willing to go much further, and Idzik doesn't have any leverage beyond a not-yet-healthy Revis. Put differently: Whatever happens, the Jets could enter 2014 with a new coach and a new quarterback (Ryan can be fired after the '13 season, and Sanchez almost certainly will follow him out the door). Whether the disgruntled cornerback stays is up to the new general manager.
Knowing that, why the urgency from the Jets to get the Bucs' 2013 draft picks? Despite Ryan's annual promises of change, this is the same outfit that won eight games in 2011 and six last season. In 12 months, Idzik could have his coach in place and a bevy of draft picks to rebuild the roster.
Say the Bucs gave up their 2013 first-rounder, then what? The quarterback draft class is a weak one so it's not like Geno Smith or Matt Barkley or whomever will magically fix one of the league's most inept passing offenses. Not only that, as King points out, but Ryan's successor won't have anything invested in Smith, Barkley, et al and the team could again be in the market for a quarterback (which is exactly what's happening this offseason in Cleveland with Brandon Weeden).
Exacerbating matters: The Jets can't franchise Revis after the season, so if they don't trade him by the October deadline or re-sign him, there's a good chance he'll walk in free agency next spring.
"The trade has to happen," another league source told King. "The question is when. The Jets know they can't sign him, and Idzik knows if he doesn't sign him he's got to get the best deal he can."
For now, the ball remains in Idzik's court. Who knows how long the Bucs will wait around, but if Idzik green lights the deal and lands Tampa Bay's 2014 first- and second-rounders, this could be the first step in remaking the Jets. Having the best cornerback on the planet is nice, but a) who knows if Revis will ever return to that level and b) Super Bowl teams aren't built around shutdown corners, but franchise quarterbacks.