FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Woody Johnson said he would "love" to see Revis Island return to New Jersey.
Shortly after firing coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik on Monday, Johnson made it clear that he'd welcome a reunion with Darrelle Revis.
There's just one problem with that: Revis plays for New England and is under contract with the Patriots through next season. That means Johnson and the Jets could be fined by the NFL for tampering.
After a member of the media asked Johnson about the Jets' refusal to target Revis during free agency last spring, the Jets' public relations director tried to remind everyone, including his owner, that the organization isn't allowed to comment on players on other teams. But Johnson still spoke of his interest in reacquiring Revis.
"I mean, Darrelle is a great player. And if I thought I could have gotten Darrelle for that [amount], I probably would have taken him," Johnson said, referring to the $12 million Revis earned this season with the Patriots. "It was our best judgment to do what we did. Darrelle's a good player. I'd love Darrelle to come back."
A portion of the league's anti-tampering policy states: "Any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club's player to that player's agent or representative, or to a member of the news media, is a violation of this Anti-Tampering Policy."
Even so, there's often little enforcement of the rule.
Hours later, Johnson backtracked on his choice of words.
"I misspoke today when I commented on Darrelle Revis," he said through the Jets' Twitter account. "I would never interfere in the contractual relationship of a player with another team and should not have used those words. I called Robert Kraft this afternoon to emphasize those points."
When reached via email, an NFL spokesman said the league does not comment on issues related to tampering.
So why did Johnson assume he wouldn't have been able to lure the All-Pro cornerback back?
"Well, I guess my experience," he said, referring to the contract strife that existed for many years between the Jets and Revis, who staged a 36-day holdout in 2010. "My experience with his agents. So it would have been very hard."
As a first-year general manager in 2013, Idzik traded Revis to the Buccaneers in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2013 draft, which the team used to select defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, and a conditional 2014 draft pick. After Revis' release from the Bucs last offseason, the Patriots signed him to a two-year, $32-million deal. The second year of the deal is a team option. Revis' 2015 cap hit would be $25 million.
Unlike the playoff-bound Patriots, the Jets stumbled to a 4-12 finish, and one of their issues was inconsistent cornerback play. Despite more than $21 million in salary-cap space last offseason, Idzik failed to sign any starting-caliber free-agent cornerbacks, even after injuries to Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle during the preseason.