New York Jets: An Offseason Salary Cap Review
Nothing shocking came out of Jets camp with cuts, though it was surprising to see the team release the entire bottom portion of their draft class. Normally the Jets carry their draft class for at least a week or two before dumping the player. Since Mike Tannenbaum took over for the squad the only players not to make it were Nate Garner, Titus Adams, and Scotty McKnight, so this is an oddity. I have to imagine the Jets just don’t feel they have the room to store players anymore with a relatively top heavy roster. When you consider that the norm for the team the last two years has been to not use their runners at all (McKnight two years ago and Powell last season), the Terrance Ganaway cut seemed to be a real difference in philosophy. He hadn’t really seen any preseason action and maybe that was done purposely in hopes of passing him thru waivers and using him on the practice squad rather than as a wasted roster spot. Considering the shaky nature of the RB position as well as the WR position I thought it made his cut and the Jordan White cut a bit odd. Maybe they just cant play.
Antonio Allen I felt looked good in preseason, but the Jets must have thought differently. He seemed to have a nose for the football but maybe that just does not translate against 1’s in the league. Robert Griffin, who most said looked awful, probably lost his spot once the team traded for Jason Smith. Some people seem surprised the Jets moved on from Marcus Dixon with the thought that it was a salary dump, but I don’t think I’d agree with that if only because the Jets would have kept some of those draft picks, who only count for $390,000 in real dollars at this point, and moved on from another roster spot. Sometimes I think sees no upside left in a player and takes a chance on one with more upside. Salary can play a role there, but its not the only factor. The other curious move was holding G Dennis Landolt on the active roster, despite being injured. I have to assume they plan on using the new injured reserve designation for him, in which case he will be placed on the IR next Tuesday and be eligible to come off IR in week 7 of the season.
All in all the Jets cleared no significant cap space with the moves and didn’t generate significant dead money in 2013. My estimates have them coming into the season at about $5.3 million in cap commitments. They have almost no dead cap, with about 60% of their dead money coming from former Jet Jerricho Cotchery. To some extent I think that shows the bind the Jets were in with certain players being in a position where they kept certain guys that may not warrant it due to dead money hits. Prior to the waiver claims, which shouldn’t have much effect anyway, this was the Jets estimated cap breakdown by position:
The spending trends pretty much show the commitment the Jets have made to defense the last few seasons in free agency and in the draft. 55% of the teams’ total cap is devoted to defense with only 41% being given to the offensive side of the football. While cap numbers are easily manipulated to sometimes cause an imbalance, in the Jets case that isn’t really the situation as the team follows more of a cash than cap philosophy with most of their players right now. The big exception is probably D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who gave the team cap relief this year through a restructuring. I’d expect the Linebacker position to come down in value next year when Bart Scott and Calvin Pace come off the books. The D-line is young and should maintain a low percentage of dollars with increasing results. CB is strictly dependent on the decision of what the team will do next season with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Their biggest offensive investment is in the line, which fits with the ground and pound philosophy. The Jets should allocate some of their LB spending to O-line in the future if they are going to be a GNP team. Some may look at running back being a small investment, but the nature of the position pretty much dictates rookie salaried players making up your cap. Whether the Jets have good ones or not might be a question, but this is money better spent, IMO, than high priced veterans that give marginal improvements, at best, despite the much higher price tag.
Of all the teams in the East the Jets are probably the one most likely to have to stay pat due to the cap in 2013, so barring trades, this may be the general team the Jets field the next two season. They have avoided the big dead money years other teams experience, but at some point dead money is no different or worse than carrying dead weight on their active roster. I would not be suprised if we see the Jets rumored to be actively shopping some big name players next year to gain more cap flexibility.