PHOENIX — The Jets have lost four defensive starters from 2012 through a contract purge and free agency, and they have a new general manager, a backlog of quarterbacks, and a fan base on the verge of mutiny.
But when owner Woody Johnson and GM John Idzik met with reporters at the NFL meetings Sunday afternoon, nearly every question focused on one player: Darrelle Revis.
The cornerback, who tore his ACL two games into the season last year, has been the subject of trade rumors for weeks, and the speculation has not died down. The Buccaneers have said they would be willing to part with a first-round draft pick — in 2014, not this year — to acquire Revis.
Johnson and Idzik said over and over Sunday that Revis is still a member of the Jets, but they also said they’d be open to trading anyone if it made their team better.
Keep in mind, teams say a lot of things this time of year. At the NFL Combine last month, Vikings GM Rick Spielman said he wouldn’t entertain trade offers for receiver Percy Harvin, and Harvin since has been traded to Seattle. A week ago, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he wanted Wes Welker to be “a Patriot for life.”
A reporter asked Johnson if he wanted Revis back with the Jets, to which the owner shot back, “Do I want him back? He’s never left! We got him; he’s on the team, he’s under contract. He’s a good player. I’d love to have him stay.”
They’d love to have him stay, but they would let him go.
“We’d like to have him on the team, but we’re trying to always make the team better, so he’s on the team right now, and that’s the way we’re approaching it,” Johnson said. “This is a chess board, and you have to move the pieces around, you’re always trying to get better, and if somebody wants to make an offer on any one of our players, we’ll listen. We’ll always listen.”
Idzik focused on Revis’s rehabilitation from his ACL injury, and was vague about the former first-round pick’s progress on that front, saying more than once that Revis is rehabbing with his own team of people.
“That’s our sole focus at this moment: to make sure he gets everything that he needs, that we monitor it closely, and that it progresses to a point where we get him back at full strength and he can perform at his level of play, which will certainly help the New York Jets,” Idzik said.
Idzik would not “comment on speculation or we’re not going to comment on maybe some internal talks that we’ve had with other clubs.
“Suffice it to say this: any move that we contemplate with any player will be done with the sole purpose of improving the New York Jets. So if there’s merit to that, then we will consider it. If there’s not, then we’ll move on.”
Revis’s representatives have groused about a lack of communication with the Jets, but Idzik said he has talked with the cornerback’s reps.
Idzik doesn’t know when Revis will return to the team facility.
“Well, April 15 is the opening of our offseason program, so hopefully Darrelle will be there, but again, a lot of that is going to be contingent on the people he’s working with. We hope to see him in April,” he said. “That’s all voluntary; he’s going to do what he thinks is best in his rehab. I’m sure before too long we will see him in Florham Park, which will be a welcome sight for sure.”
So can Idzik say definitively that Revis will be a Jet for the 2013 season?
“It would be unfair to say anything definitively,” he said. “We just go along, let things play out, but certainly when it comes to Darrelle Revis, he’s the caliber of player you want on your team.”
The league meetings are a perfect place for deals to go down, so even though Idzik said he expects Revis to still be a member of the Jets at the end of the week, that doesn’t mean he’ll be one at the end of the month or the end of the offseason.
. . .
The Patriots signed free agent offensive tackle Will Svitek Sunday. Svitek is 6 feet 6 inches, 308 pounds, and missed the 2012 season because of an arm injury suffered in training camp with the Falcons.
Born in the Czech Republic, Svitek was a sixth-round pick of the Chiefs in 2005 after playing at Stanford.