Trading Bart Scott
Manish Mehta broke the story today that the Jets have given ILB Bart Scott permission to seek a trade. My twitter has been blowing up with questions about it so I thought it would be worthwhile to post some thoughts.
First of all, it is certainly not a surprising move. The Jets made a decision to guarantee his 2012 salary last season in return for a pay reduction. It was not a bad move at the time. The Jets likely assumed that Bart, who had been a leader on the team, was still capable of playing at a high level for two seasons. If the Jets intended to keep him here for 2 years then getting salary cap relief was a smart decision. Unfortunately all moves have risks associated with them and Scott represented the worst case scenario. .
Maybe the Jets should have seen the writing on the wall. He had played 19 games in each of the last three seasons and was getting older. But they took the chance and it backfired. Scott didn’t play nearly as well as he did his first two seasons with the team. He became a liability in the passing game to the point that he was routinely replaced in such situations. He lost his leadership role with the team (as demonstrated by his middle finger to the media) and was frustrated with how things were going during the season.
If the Jets cut Scott the cap charge would be $7.2 million, a very high cost for a player no longer on the team. If they trade him it is only $3 million, which represents a cap savings of $2.95 million for the club, making a trade definitely worth doing. The ILB is probably the easiest position in the NFL to find players. The Jets are way over invested financially in the position with Scott and David Harris and all it does is dilute the impact both could have, giving the Jets limited results for the money spent. Harris is much younger so moving Scott makes all the sense in the world for both the short and long term.
I was originally told that Scott did have a salary offset in his contract if the Jets were to release him, but other reports have said there is no offset in his salary so trade is likely the only option for the two sides since the Jets owe him $4.2 million in cash regardless. The question becomes what market is there for an older and slower ILB with a lot of wear and tear on his tires? My guess is not, especially at $4.2 million guaranteed. It has to be a team that has an owner willing to throw money around that also has a good deal of cap space to use for a one season trial.
Would the Jets get anything back in return? I doubt it. This reminds me of a salary dump in baseball where the Jets would need to give up something like a 5th round pick and Scott to get back a 7. The Jets are in a position where they are basically begging a team to take him off their hands because of the finances.
The other thing at play is that the Jets may want Scott back but at a reduced price. The Jets hands are obviously tied there, but by giving him permission to “play the market” they may be attempting to show him that there are no teams interested in him. Scott is a competitive player and if his options are to collect a $4.2 million check from the Jets and send his retirement papers into the league offices or to stay with an organization and coaching staff he knows at $2 million maybe he is willing to take that pay cut the Jets want. I think that is the game the team played with WR Jerricho Cotchery. It didn’t work, but Cotchery became a 5th WR that played for the veterans minimum and caught one pass a game proving the Jets front office correct. Maybe Scott won’t want to take that same chance Cotchery did and accept a reduced role on the team that made him one of the highest paid players at his position in the NFL.