Keyshawn Johnson’s advice to the Jets is simple, straightforward and perfectly logical: It’s time to trade Darrelle Revis.
Revis, facing an uncertain future with the Jets because of impending contract issues and his continuing recovery from reconstructive knee surgery, has been the subject of controversy, something Johnson understands well.
In fact, Johnson himself has been down this road before.
“I think it’s a smart move if they do move him and get value,” the former Jets receiver said. “He’s not going to win any games for you. He’s a defensive back who will shut down the (opponents’) top receiver, but the ball is not in his hands. The Jets need more than a top corner. They need some pieces. If he gives them the value to get those pieces, then move him.”
Johnson said he believes the Jets have far too many holes at other positions — especially quarterback — and will not be a contending team this year. So why not get something for their best player, especially given that his contract is set to expire after next season and the Jets don’t have the franchise tag to keep him for at least the 2014 season, if not longer.
“It’s not that the Jets don’t want him,” said Johnson, now an ESPN analyst. “It’s the right thing to do to build the team. He’s the top corner. He’s the guy. But (the Jets) need a quarterback, running back, wide receivers, other defensive backs. (A trade) gives them that opportunity to fill some of those holes. If they keep Revis, what else do they have? Not much. They’re in a division against the Patriots, and other teams in the AFC are improving.”
Johnson is especially troubled by the Jets’ quarterback situation, with incumbent Mark Sanchez set to return. The team also has backup Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow still is on the roster, although he is expected to be released.
The Jets met this past week with veteran David Garrard, who has not played the last two years because of injuries. There’s also a chance they will draft a quarterback next month.
“It’s a bad football team, and the quarterback doesn’t know if he’s coming or going,” Johnson said of Sanchez. “One minute, he wants to be Hollywood. The next, he wants to be a quarterback. Can’t do both, son.”
Johnson himself was involved in a controversial trade shortly before the 2000 draft, so he knows what Revis is going through. The Jets’ No. 1 overall pick in 1996, Johnson wanted a new contract that year, but the Jets opted to trade him to Tampa Bay in exchange for two first-round picks.
The Jets used the picks to draft defensive end Shaun Ellis, a fixture on their defense until two years ago, and tight end Anthony Becht, who did not emerge as a dynamic player in his five seasons with the Jets. The Jets also drafted quarterback Chad Pennington and defensive end John Abraham in the first round that year.
If there’s a similar deal for Revis, Johnson says the Jets should take it in a New York minute.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Get something of value for him. Two No. 1s is hard to get for a non-quarterback. You’ve got to find a real sucker. But if you do, then take it. And the Jets can’t afford to dangle him out there, bark and don’t bite. If they do that (and don’t trade Revis), then you’re going to have a player that’s (ticked) at you playing this season.”
As for his own trade in 2000, Johnson contends the Jets were wrong to deal him because the circumstances were far different than they are today.
The Jets, who had reached the AFC Championship Game after the 1998 season, went 8-8 in 1999 after quarterback Vinny Testaverde suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the opener. Testaverde was back in the lineup for 2000, when the Jets went 9-7 in Al Groh’s only season as their coach (he left to coach Virginia after the season).
“I was the heartbeat and the soul of the team,” said Johnson, who played for the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers in 2002. “I was the personality of the team. I was productive. We had the pieces. We didn’t need anything else. All we needed was a healthy Vinny Testaverde. It was the wrong move. The offense didn’t look the same when I left. It was pretty much Curtis Martin and a hodgepodge. I wouldn’t have done it if I were the GM.”
And if the Jets had been in a similar situation in 2000 as they are now, would the Keyshawn trade have made sense?
“No quarterback, no running game, no playoffs? Yes, that would have been a great decision,” Johnson said. “But that wasn’t the case. We had players. We had Pro Bowlers. We had a good team.”
The Jets’ general manager at the time was former coach Bill Parcells. And guess who negotiated Johnson’s contract — an eight-year, $56-million deal — with the Bucs?
John Idzik, now the Jets’ general manager.
“When you see him, tell him I said thanks for the money,” Johnson cracked.
Johnson believes Idzik will be a capable executive and thinks he’ll wind up doing the right thing with Revis.
Namely, trading him.
“I think John will do a good job with the Jets,” Johnson said. “He’ll be good.”
Revis has complained publicly about not getting the answers he needs from the Jets about his future. Johnson’s advice to him is this: Dare them to make the deal.
“Revis should kick back and say, ‘Move me. If you’re all so bold to trade me, then trade me. Send me to Green Bay or wherever,”” Johnson said. “He should realize it’s not a bad thing and that they don’t want you. He’s a wanted man with value. He’ll get his money no matter where he plays.”