The big talk around Pittsburgh has been the trade even Ray Shero didn't think he had pulled off, to bring in Jarome Iginia from the Calgary Flames for a draft pick and pocket change.
But it pales in comparison to his latest triumph. The Steelers front office, frustrated with the breakdown in communication with the front office of the Jets, asked Shero if he could help.
It wasn't all that surprising that the two teams weren't coming to terms. There were still some hurt feelings in New York after the Omar Khan interview. (Khan was asked what he would do to make the Jets a better team, and his answer was, apparently, not tactful.) And Coach Tomlin and Coach Ryan have never managed to communicate at all. (Ryan to offensive coodinator, "What did he just say?" OC: "I have no idea, but I don't think it was a compliment.")
But the Jets have a problem on their hands, and the Steelers were happy to be part of the solution. Cornerback Darrelle Revis is apparently a drug on the market, and the Jets wanted badly to get something for him before it's too late. The Steelers, despite seeming set at corner, have always liked Revis, and would like nothing better than to bring him back to Pittsburgh.
The negotiations with Tampa Bay appeared to be completely stalled, and no one else was nibbling. The Steelers have too many needs on the team at this point to give up a first-round pick, and Revis' contract was too rich for their cap-strapped blood.
Enter the Man of the Hour, Ray Shero. Correctly surmising that the quickest way to Rex Ryan's heart was to appeal to his, for lack of a better word, baser nature, Shero dangled something Ryan can't resist in front of him—used quarterbacks. Packaging Charlie Batch, whose numbers looked better than Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow added together last year, and the newly signed Bruce Gradkowski, Shero knew he could get Ryan's attention. And since more is always better, he threw in the Steelers' 5th and 7th round picks for this season, next season's 2nd round pick (Colbert isn't very good with 2nd round picks anyhow), and a coupon for 500 Primanti sandwiches.
The small problem of Revis' contract remained. Fortunately, his contract, although in theory running through 2016, actually voids at the end of 2013 if both parties don't agree to a re-up. Although the contract contains an additional $3 million in bonuses, the base salary is just $3 million. And while this is still a bit over the Steelers' remaining cap, the removal of Gradkowski's contract makes it just come out even. But those pesky bonuses were still a deal-breaker.
The Jets, however, were so relieved to finally find a trading partner that Shero persuaded them to guarantee the bonuses. Since these bonuses are evenly divided between a roster bonus, a reporting bonus, and a workout bonus, the Jets are no doubt confident they will never actually have to pay out the money.
And that's the back story—or as much of it as any of us will ever know—on the trade which will rock the sports world, and bring Revis back to Pittsburgh.