Back in March of 2015, the New York Jets signed CB Darrelle Revis in free agency under a shroud of tampering. I made the argument that the Patriots and Jets should have swapped first round picks as a penalty for the willful rule-breaking by the New York leadership. I stand by that assertion because the latest report will curl your toes.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News has a breaking report that reveals the lengths at which the Jets tampered, how it was worse than anything the Patriots ever did, and how they got away with it.
The Jets were fined $100,000 for tampering after Jets owner Woody Johnson declared that he would “love to have Darrelle back.” Since Revis was still under contract with the Patriots, Johnson was guilty of textbook tampering. The NFL offices led an “investigation” but ultimately settled on only penalizing the Jets for Johnson’s throwaway phrase.
For the record, Mehta called the Patriots “petty” for calling for a league investigation into Johnson’s tampering. Jets fans also say to take Mehta’s reports with huge lumps of salt. But we’ll operate as if this report is well within the realm of possibility.
Johnson has a long history of tampering, specifically with former Patriots WR Deion Branch, former Eagles WR DeSean Jackson, and Revis. While most teams are forced to swap mid-round picks with the team they are guilty of tampering against, and penalized a late round pick, the Jets have gotten away relatively free of punishment.
While tampering with Revis, Jets “officials in stealth mode communicated with Revis, Inc., through private cell phones and face-to-face covert meetings at the 2015 Scouting Combine [in February] rather than make calls from the team's landlines at their Florham Park facility,” Mehta reports. “No paper trails were a must.
“Johnson, the driving force behind bringing back Revis to right a wrong in his mind, endorsed all of it.”
So with the full support of the team owner, the Jets engaged in repeated illicit conversations with a then-active member of the Patriots in order to sign him away in free agency and used private cell phones to stay away from the league investigations.
If I recall correctly, a certain quarterback and the Patriots were fined a first round and fourth round pick for not handing over a private cell phone during the exact same time frame.
And while science has vindicated Tom Brady and the Patriots from DeflateGate, and filming from the wrong location in violation of a league memo earned a first round penalty, the Jets were in violation of a more severe and explicitly defined breach of the official NFL Constitution and Bylaws (emphasis added).
9.2 Prohibited Conduct - Tampering
If a member club or any officer, shareholder, director, partner, employee, agent, or representative thereof or any person holding an interest in said club shall tamper, negotiate with, or make an offer, directly or indirectly, to a player, or his representative, on the Active, Reserve, or Selection List of another member club, then unless the offending club shall clearly prove to the Commissioner that such action was unintentional, the offending club, in addition to being subject to all other penalties provided in the Constitution and Bylaws, shall lose its selection choice in the next succeeding Selection Meeting in the same round in which the affected player was originally selected in the Selection Meeting in which he was originally chosen. If such affected player was never selected in any Selection Meeting, the Commissioner shall determine the round in which the offending club shall lose its selection choice. Additionally, if the Commissioner decided such offense was intentional, the Commissioner shall have the power to fine the offending club and may award the offended club 50% of the amount of the fine imposed by the Commissioner. In all such cases the offended club must first certify to the Commissioner that such an offense has been committed.
Following the letter of the law, the Jets should have lost its draft pick “in the same round in which the affected player was originally selected,” meaning the loss of a first round pick for the former first round pick Revis and the Jets should have to pay the Patriots $50,000 (half the monetary fine for being intentional about the tampering).
In prior instances of tampering, the 49ers lost a 5th round pick and were forced to swap 3rd round picks with the Bears for the tampering of former 3rd round LB Lance Briggs- and Briggs didn’t even leave Chicago. The Lions lost a 7th round pick for tampering with former 7th round S Jarrad Page, and were forced to swap 5th round picks with Kansas City.
This past year, the Chiefs were penalized a 3rd and 6th round pick for tampering with then-Eagles and former 1st round WR Jeremy Maclin, but the penalty was deemed kind by the league because “the assessment of discipline here accounts for the fact that the club and its personnel were fully cooperative and forthcoming in the investigation.”
The Jets were clearly not “forthcoming in the investigation” and the rules are the rules. The Jets should have lost their first round pick for tampering with Revis- and precedence dictates a swap with the offended team in grossly intentional circumstances of tampering- and that penalty should be solidified by the franchise’s attempt to cover up their illicit behavior.