When you own an NFL team, the smart thing to do may be to not talk about a player under contract with another franchise. Especially when those comments include things like how your team "probably would have taken him" if his final asking price had been known. Comments like that could land a team in hot water if the league were to receive charges of tampering, and were to find that the comments expressed interest in a player who is under contract with another team.
In this case, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson appears to have clearly expressed interest in New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis when asked about things he would have done differently for the 2014 season. Revis started his career with the Jets, but signed this past offseason as a free agent with the Patriots after one year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Just to make sure we have heard enough to say for sure that, yes, Johnson appears to be expressing interest in the Patriots' defensive back, Johnson also said that he would "love for Darrelle to come back."
Seems pretty straight forward.
The Patriots appear to agree, as they have filed tampering charges against the Jets. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the league will now look into the allegations, and determine if tampering did occur, and what an appropriate fine would be in this case. The team could also face the loss of draft picks.
Revis has a $20 million option for 2015, something the Patriots are not expected to pick up. If they do not, he would become a free agent. The real issue is, with Johnson making the public statement of Jets interest, the Patriots could now argue that any re-negotiations they were to have with Revis before having to make a decision on his option will now be influenced by Revis knowing another team is interested in his services.
Shortly after making the remarks, which were made back at the end of December, Johnson apologized for them, stating, "I misspoke today when I commented on Darrelle Revis. I would never interfere in the contractual relationship of a player with another team and should not have used those words." Johnson also said he contacted Patriots owner Robert Kraft to explain the comments.
It now appears that explanation was not enough to appease New England. It will be hard to argue that Johnson and the Jets did not tamper with the Revis, so it should come down to how serious an infraction the league sees this being.