The AFC East may not be the best division in the NFL, but it’s the most interesting. By far.
The intrigue level has gone up a notch with the news, per Adam Schefter of ESPN, that the Patriots have filed formal tampering charges against the Jets due to owner Woody Johnson’s public comments about New England cornerback Darrelle Revis.
In the press conference discussing the firing of G.M. John Idzik and coach Rex Ryan, Johnson committed a clear violation of the tampering rules when talking about the team’s failure to sign Revis after he was released by the Buccaneers in 2014.
“Darrelle is a great player, and if I thought I could have gotten Darrelle for [what the Patriots paid], I probably would’ve taken him,” Johnson said at the time. “And it was our best judgment to do what we did. Darrelle is a great player. I’d love for Darrelle to come back.”
After some in the media pointed out that Johnson had tampered with Revis, Johnson said he misspoke. And it continues to be unclear how he misspoke, unless he meant to say, “I’d hate for Darrelle to come back.”
PFT reported that the Patriots expected the league to take action on the situation, with or without a formal complaint. It’s unclear why the Patriots filed an official complaint, but it’s possible that the NFL told the Patriots that, if they have a problem with what Woody said, they need to file a complaint — which is similar to what the NFL told the Raiders after the late Al Davis suggested that the Patriots tampered with Randy Moss before New England got him for peanuts relative to his performance in 2007.
The NFL’s Anti-Tampering Policy provides that any violation “will subject the involved club and/or person to severe disciplinary action by the Commissioner.” Available sanctions include fines and draft picks. In some cases, the outcome entails the violator flip-flopping picks in specific rounds with the victim.
Revis signed a two-year deal with the Patriots, including a second-year that forces the Patriots to renegotiate the contract or to cut him. With Johnson making it clear that he’d like to sign Revis, Revis can (in theory) take a harder line in his talks with New England.