Brett Favre will wind up in green this season after all -- New York Jets green.
Green Bay traded the future Hall of Fame quarterback to the Jets late Wednesday for an undisclosed draft pick. The development ends weeks of speculation about where Favre would land after ending his short-lived retirement.
"I am looking forward to seeing Brett Favre in a New York Jets uniform," Jets Chairman/CEO Woody Johnson said in a statement issued by the club. "He represents a significant addition to this franchise, and reflects our commitment to putting the best possible product on the field."
Packers President Mark Murphy said in a written statement that the franchise owes Favre "a tremendous debt of gratitude for everything he accomplished on the field and for the impact he made in the state.
"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."
After determining they were moving on with Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback, the Packers made it clear they had no intention of trading Favre within the NFC North. Green Bay was even willing to pay Favre more than $20 million to call it quits for good.
"We respect Brett's decision that he could no longer remain here as a Packer," Murphy wrote. "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."
Favre leaves Green Bay as the NFL's all-time leader in most major passing categories, including touchdowns (442), yards (61,655), completions (5,377) and attempts (8,758). He also started a record 253 consecutive games. By playing 16 seasons in a Packers uniform (1992-2007), he matches Bart Starr (1956-71) for the longest tenure in team history.
As late as Wednesday afternoon, Tampa Bay was also in the running for Favre, a three-time NFL most valuable player who nearly led Green Bay to the Super Bowl last season.
The Jets will have to create some salary-cap space to make room for Favre, who is due to make $12.7 million this season. At the moment, New York is $6.5 million under the cap but reportedly is likely to release quarterback Chad Pennington, who is scheduled to make $6 million.
The Jets, coming off a 4-12 season in which they lost eight of their first nine games, spent big on their offensive line this off-season, signing Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca from Pittsburgh and guard Damien Woody from Detroit. New York also has good wide receivers in Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery.
Still, in the hours leading up to the trade, Tampa Bay was believed to be the favorite to land Favre, so much so that Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia even jokingly referred to himself as a "dead man walking" as he made his way through a pack of reporters to the practice field.
The Buccaneers seemed like a more natural fit for Favre, in part because of his relationship with Coach Jon Gruden, who coached receivers for the Packers in Favre's early years in Green Bay.
There's no obvious link between Favre and Jets Coach Eric Mangini or offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Favre flew home Wednesday afternoon from Green Bay to Hattiesburg, Miss., and sounded exhausted and exasperated when he explained to reporters there how things finally fell apart with his old team.
"I was asked the question if I was totally committed to the Packers," Favre said. "I know it's been documented and I posed the same question back to them. I don't think either side could totally commit after all that's happened. Because the bottom line in all of this is playing football. And I've always been committed to my job. I know people say, 'You need to put the personal issues aside.' And I agree, but I couldn't do that."
He added: "It's in everyone's best interest to do it quicker than later. I won't say we're running out of time, but I need to get into camp somewhere."
Now he can head for New York.