PHOENIX – The Patriots/Jets rivalry took an even more ridiculous and childish turn on Tuesday.
In an apparent act of retaliation against the Patriots for filing tampering charges against the Jets for Woody Johnson’s comments about Darrelle Revis back in late December, the Jets fired back and filed tampering charges against the Patriots, according to multiple reports.
The Jets’ charge is based on Robert Kraft’s comments to reporters on Monday about losing Revis to the Jets, who this month signed the All-Pro cornerback to a three-year deal worth $39 million fully guaranteed.
Kraft told reporters the Patriots wanted Revis back in New England after he helped the team win a Super Bowl last month, but budgetary restraints prevented the team from matching the Jets’ contract offer.
“We thought we made a very competitive offer, and I speak as a fan of the New England Patriots, we wanted to keep him, we wanted him in our system,” Kraft said. “And we have certain disciplines. We had hoped it worked out. It didn’t.”
According to the NFL’s tampering policy, the term tampering “refers to any interference by a member club with the employer-employee relationship of another club or any attempt by a club to impermissibly induce a person to seek employment with that club or with the NFL.”
Kraft had several other comments about losing Revis on Monday, but all were made in the past tense about not being able to keep Revis.
“He’s a great player. The fan in me wishes he was still with us,” Kraft said. “The emotion and the fan in you, you want to keep all the good players. I know what it’s like and you lose a game in the fall and the winter. The emotion of the spring has to have some discipline if you want to be good long term. I think [Bill Belichick has] proven to be a pretty good manager of our resources.”
“Bill wanted him. When you’ve got a budget, there’s certain things you can’t do, and we have a budget. And in the end we’ll judge it by what the results are, what happens in wins and losses at the end of the year. And also it takes two sides. I think each side in the end did what was right for them.”
The NFL’s tampering policy further states:
“Any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club’s player to that player’s agent or representative, or to a member of the news media, is a violation of this Anti-Tampering Policy. (Example of a prohibited comment: “He’s an excellent player, and we’d very much like to have him if he were available, but another club holds his rights.”) All clubs should be aware that improper disclosure of confidential trade discussions with another club may be a violation of this section on prohibited public statements.”
The Jets’ charge seems to be more of a statement about the ridiculousness of the Patriots filing a charge against the Jets two months ago. Johnson did appear to commit a textbook violation of the NFL’s tampering policy when discussing Revis back in December, but the Jets believe the Patriots were being petty by filing the tampering charge, which is still pending.
“Darrelle is a great player,” Johnson said the day after the Jets’ final game of the 2014 season. “If I thought I could’ve gotten Darrelle for that [money that New England gave him], I probably would’ve taken him. It was our best judgment to do what we did. Darrelle is a great player. I’d love Darrelle to come back.”
Revis was likely going to re-sign with the Jets whether Johnson made those comments or not. However, Johnson made it clear that day that the Jets would be willing to spend big to bring Revis back to the Jets, the team that drafted him in 2007. Kraft’s comments, meanwhile, seem clear that the Patriots owner was only talking about why a negotiation with a former player didn’t work out. Revis signed a five-year deal with the Jets, although the guaranteed money runs out after 2017.
The NFL is still investigating the Patriots’ tampering claim against the Jets, and NFL precedent states that, if found guilty, the Jets could be docked a mid-to-late-round draft pick and be forced to potentially swap draft picks with the Patriots.