By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 7, 2008
The Green Bay Packers agreed last night to trade quarterback Brett Favre to the New York Jets, a final surprising twist to a football soap opera that already had been full of them.
The Jets apparently outbid the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the three-time NFL MVP, who retired in March but changed his mind in recent weeks. According to one source close to the trade talks, the Jets surrendered a fourth-round draft pick that can increase in value, potentially all the way to a first-round choice, based on the performance of Favre and his new team this season.
Jets owner Woody Johnson said in a written statement: "I am looking forward to seeing Brett Favre in a New York Jets uniform. He represents a significant addition to this franchise, and reflects our commitment to putting the best possible product on the field."
The Packers announced the agreement late last night without revealing what they received in return.
"Brett has had a long and storied career in Green Bay, and the Packers owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for everything he accomplished on the field and for the impact he made in the state," the Packers said in a written statement attributed to President Mark Murphy and General Manager Ted Thompson. "It is with some sadness that we make this announcement, but also with the desire for certainty that will allow us to move the team and organization forward in the most positive way possible."
Favre, who will turn 39 in October, leaves the Packers after 16 seasons. He was in Green Bay this week but did not make it on the practice field after telling Coach Mike McCarthy he was not fully committed to playing for the club this season, according to McCarthy.
Favre left Green Bay yesterday and returned to his home in Mississippi while the Packers shopped him to the Jets and Buccaneers. The Buccaneers had been regarded as the front-runner but apparently were not willing to surrender as much as the Jets, and the Packers seemed to prefer a trade to the Jets because they were able to send Favre out of the NFC and to a team they do not play this season.
The Jets inherit Favre's contract, which is to pay him a salary of $12 million this season. It was not immediately clear if Favre agreed to rework it.
Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens had been competing for the Jets' starting quarterback job. The Jets plan to trade or release Pennington today to clear salary cap space and will retain the younger Clemens to back up Favre.
The Jets went 4-12 last season but made several expensive offseason upgrades, signing guard Alan Faneca and linebacker Calvin Pace to lucrative contracts in free agency. The acquisition of Favre becomes the biggest of all.
Favre must learn a new offensive system and adjust to playing under the bright New York spotlight. He has no real connections to the Jets franchise, but former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, while in the Jets' front office, once tried to draft Favre. Wolf failed and Favre instead was taken by the Atlanta Falcons. He was traded to the Packers after one season, with Wolf by then in Green Bay.
Earlier yesterday, a source familiar with the trade talks said that Favre preferred the Buccaneers to the Jets. But other people close to the deliberations said Favre would not necessarily oppose a trade to the Jets.
In Tampa, Favre would have been penciled in to supplant Jeff Garcia as the starter on a team that reached the playoffs last season. He would have been reunited with Buccaneers Coach Jon Gruden, a former Packers assistant. He would have gotten to face the Packers this season and he would have continued to play in a version of the West Coast offense.
Instead, he's headed to New York after a tumultuous offseason in which he tearfully announced his retirement in March, then decided to play and found himself at odds with the Packers. It was thought that Favre wanted to play for the Minnesota Vikings but the Packers refused to trade him to a fellow NFC North team or grant his request to be released.
"We respect Brett's decision that he could no longer remain here as a Packer," the team said in its statement. "But there were certain things we were not willing to do because they were not in the best interest of the team. We were not going to release him nor trade him to a team within the division. When Brett ultimately decided that he still wanted to play football, but not in Green Bay, we told him that we would work to find the best solution for all parties involved. We wish Brett and his family well.
"We appreciate the tremendous passion shown by our fans. We, like them, always will see Brett Favre as a Green Bay Packer and our respect for him never will change. Moving forward, we are dedicated to delivering a successful 2008 season for all Packers fans."
Favre traveled to Green Bay on Sunday after the NFL announced that Commissioner Roger Goodell would approve his reinstatement effective Monday afternoon. Favre returned to Mississippi yesterday. He told a television station there he was hopeful of a resolution soon but didn't know what the outcome would be.
"I've got to get back to the frame of mind of just going to play," Favre told WDAM-TV. "We've got to resolve that. If we can't, we can't. Who knows what will happen, but we're trying to do that quicker rather than" later.