The Impact of the February Cuts
The Jets were clearly very active Monday night and began the purging of the roster as they gear up for the 2011 season, whenever it may be, and the free agents they need to sign. Some of the moves, such as the release of RT Damien Woody, seemed a bit shortsighted since they had no payments due until deep in the 2011 season, but I have been told that the NFL is accelerating all money of players into the 2010 league year and no dead money will be carried into 2011. Just like everything that I put on the site I will not say with 100% certainty that is the case, but considering the timing of these moves it seems like a logical assumption and the one I will be going with until told otherwise. So that was why the team rushed into those moves tonight rather than waiting until the season resumes and a new CBA is reached. Lets look at the players and what the team saved:
With the exception of the Raiders JaMarcus Russell, Gholston will go down as the worst draft choice of the decade. He is probably the worst draft choice the Jets have made in over 20 years and a total black eye on the front office, which is why they tried to push the story that he was the pick of Eric Mangini. Gholston ended his Jets career with as many sacks as I have and the same amount as almost everyone reading this. If there was some solace to be found in the pick it is that he was so bad that he could not earn the impossible to not earn bonuses and escalators in his rookie deal that would have made him impossible to cut. Russell earned his and cost the Raiders a fortune in cash when they dumped him.
The Jets had already reworked his deal once and apparently banked on this as being an out. He was scheduled to earn $555,000 in salary and a $250,000 workout bonus in 2011. He also had a roster bonus on the books for $2,565,000 that likely had already accelerated to $9,195,000 for participation in over 20% of the defensive snaps. His prorated money tied into salary advances and signing bonuses totaled over $2.9 million for the year and $5.8 million over the course of the year. By cutting him before the new league year began the Jets will shave at least $6,273,333 from the books as well as $2.9 million of prorated money that would have accelerated had he been cut from the team in March. If the Jets would like to bring him back for a look he would likely earn $555,000 with a small workout bonus.
Jenkins is a victim of the uncapped year in the same way that Alan Faneca was a big winner in the uncapped year. The Jets could not release Faneca due to cap rules, allowing Faneca to earn over $5 million from the Jets despite never playing a down for them in 2010. This is the exact opposite as Jenkins would have had an opportunity to renegotiate his contract in a normal year, but labor uncertainty gave that no chance. Jenkins is no longer able to stay healthy and the Jets have paid him nicely for what has amounted to just a handful of games played since 2008. With a one million dollar bonus looming early in March there was no way the Jets could keep him on the roster.
Jenkins also made some negative comments in the past week about the Jets strength and training regimen which likely did not help his position and probably foreshadowed what he knew was coming. It was clear during the season that Jenkins was preparing for his post NFL career and the Jets did not want to pay him anything only to have him walk away in August or even worse see him get injured in camp and then owe him a years worth of salary. The Jets will save $5.5 million in cash, $6.4 million in cap space, and an additional $900,000 in future dead money with the release. Jenkins would never come back for the minimum so if he was to return it would be on an incentive laden deal with a split salary of sorts if he got injured.
Woody tried to play through a seemingly endless barrage of injuries this year, before he finally had to shut it down. Like Jenkins, he has been around for a long time and seemed to be preparing for a post NFL career after he was shut down for good. This was a pure cap dump as the Jets will shave $510,000 in dead money for 2011 and another $510,000 in potential dead money in 2012 by making the move now. I think it was well known that Woody had no chance of seeing the contracted money when he signed with the Jets in 2008 and clearly there were no bitter feelings on his part based on his Twitter interaction with the fans. That probably means the door is open for a return and at this stage of his career, where he would probably be an emergency backup if Vladimir Ducasse can not play in the NFL, he would probably go for the veterans minimum type contract which carries a minimal cap charge and would likely pay him around $900,000. The Jets will save $3,750,000 in cash and $4,260,000 in cap room with Woody's release.
There is really no savings in this move unless Taylor earned a $10,000,000 roster bonus last season, which does not seem possible. Taylor seemed to enjoy his year with the Jets far more than his time with the Redskins, but he is a Dolphin at heart and as soon as Bill Parcells left that organization I think the wheels began turning in Taylor's mind that maybe he could go back there one final time. There is also the fact that Taylor hired a second agency last year to represent him for non-football endeavors which is a sign that he is seriously considering hanging things up. Between those factors and the fact that he never participates in any offseason programs it made little sense to have him tying up cap space while contemplating his future. Dumping him now leaves the sides on good terms if he decides come July that he wants to play football. The Jets will save $2,275,000 in both cash and cap space.
So where does the team stand after all these moves?
In terms of budgeting they have now chopped $14,895,000 off the books, a significant chunk of change to use to re-sign Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes. They should chop off about $19,208,333 off the cap figure in 2011. If the information I have about the money being accelerated is wrong then the figure will be $10,581,666 in cap room created by the moves. Once you factor in David Harris' franchise number the Jets cap figure should be around $110 million when the free agency period begins. That is about $13 million lower than where the 2009 cap would have been had it been a regular NFL season. In the worst case scenario they would be at $119 million if there is dead money brought forward from these cuts.
The team still has significant leeway with their cap in 2011 with QB Mark Sanchez carrying a cap charge of over $17 million, a number that can easily be reduced by converting salary into signing bonus. In addition, Bryan Thomas would give the Jets another $3.2 million in room if released. So the bottom line is the Jets should have a tremendous amount of flexibility with what they decide to do in 2011.