John Idzik and Rex Ryan could have ended the Darrelle Revis trade speculation once and for all, or at least tamped it down to the point that the story didn't dominate what's usually a quiet time of the year in the NFL.
But neither man made a convincing case that the Jets wouldn't at least consider a deal for their best player.
Facing repeated questions from reporters at the scouting combine Thursday, the Jets' new general manager and incumbent coach said they have no intention of trading Revis.
But . . .
There's always that word, the three letters that make you realize this thing is not going away anytime soon.
Nor should it.
As much as Revis wants clarification of his situation, this is not the time for it.
This is a time for the Jets to keep their options open about a player whose physical situation is uncertain after reconstructive knee surgery and whose contractual situation is a far more vexing issue.
Even if Revis were to come back at full strength from an injury he suffered early last season, the fact remains that his contract will continue to be an albatross.
It goes like this: Revis, who has staged two messy contract holdouts, has a year left on his current deal. If there is no extension before next year, he can walk as a free agent with no compensation. If he signs an extension, the Jets would be on the hook for enormous salary-cap numbers.This at a time when the cap is not expected to increase significantly, which would severely limit the team's options in signing other players.
Translation: Idzik and Ryan are smart for not closing the door on a trade.
Sorry, Darrelle. That might not be the answer you're looking for, but that's the cold, hard reality of life in today's NFL.
So yes, it's a good thing that Idzik says in one breath: "Darrelle Revis is obviously a great football player, a great New York Jet'' . . . and in the next breath adds, "My job will always be to field calls and have internal discussions about how we can improve our team day-by-day.'' In other words, Idzik wisely is leaving wiggle room if some team looks at Revis as a final piece in its roster puzzle and is willing to pay a king's ransom in draft choices to a Jets team that needs help at multiple positions.
They need a starting quarterback, a No. 1 running back, an edge pass rusher, two safeties and maybe a tight end if Dustin Keller leaves as a free agent.
Idzik and Ryan know as much, and that's why there's no reason for them to come out with any definitive statements.
Ryan, who has publicly backed his prize cornerback, was unwilling to make a blanket "we're-not-trading-Revis" proclamation.
Asked if he is opposed to a trade, Ryan said, "I'm going to coach whoever is here. I'm not going to say this player or that player. If you got Jim Brown in that trade, you'd probably look into that trade."
Ryan later was asked if the Jets have no intention of trying to trade Revis. "Right now, we recognize Darrelle's a great player,'' he said. "There's no question about that. Could there be a trade? Yeah, anybody could be traded. But do I expect a trade of Darrelle Revis? No, but that doesn't mean something couldn't come up."
And there it is, that word again . . . but.
As it should be. Revis was the best cornerback in the league but the complexities surrounding his contract make it abundantly clear that the Jets need to consider all options.
And that includes a trade.
Better to get something in return rather than keep him for one season on a rebuilding team that still is several players -- and possibly several years -- from being a legitimate contender.