Jets 2015 Salary Cap Outlook

Estimated 2015 Cap Space: $49.8 million ($140M cap limit)

Roster Overview

Players Under Contract: 52
Pro Bowlers: 1
Unrestricted Free Agents: 14(4 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 6

Salary Cap Breakdown

Jets Salary Cap

Jets Salary Cap

Jets Salary Cap

Free Agents to Re-sign

Defensive tackle Damon Harrison is one of the best bargains in the NFL and is a must keep for the Jets. He will be a restricted free agent this offseason so they will likely start with a second round tender, which will eat up over $2 million in space, and go from there. If they can extend him in the ballpark of $5 million a year they should strongly consider it. Even if just from a PR standpoint an extension for “Snacks” would help the new general manager start off with an aggressive and popular move…Leger Douzable is a nice backup player that can provide some pressure on the interior. He signed for $1 million last year and should get a small raise in 2015….John Conner played well in his return to the Jets and is worth keeping to compete for the position, though it would be dependent on the new offensive system utilizing a fullback.

Free Agents to Let Walk

Linebacker David Harris showed flashes early in his career of being a difference maker, but never really played to the level after signing his extension. The Jets need to get younger and faster, which they will not do by bringing Harris back. If he was to come back it should only be on a one year contract and my guess is he could get a better deal elsewhere…Kyle Wilson has been a disappointment for the Jets and has no place on the team moving forward…Michael Vick showed no desire to play when the Jets gave him an opportunity and is definitely not the answer for the team, even as a stopgap starter.

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Contracts to Modify

Percy Harvin has a $10.5 million salary in 2015 and a bloated contract in general. While he is not worth the contract, he has talent and the Jets are devoid of it making him a must keep, unless they are certain they can get one of the big names in free agency. This is probably a great opportunity to bring his contract in line with the market by guaranteeing this year’s salary in return for moderate salaries in the future….Defensive End Muhammad Wilkerson is not coming off the kind of season he had in 2013, which should make for an easier negotiation. If they work quickly to extend him they can roll his $6.969 million salary into his new contract guarantee, giving them more long term protection if he plays poorly. It’s a hard position to gauge but he will likely end up as an $11M-$12M a year player and the Jets gain nothing by waiting to extend him.

Players to Consider Releasing

Running back Chris Johnson has had a few moments where he has looked productive and others where he looks washed up. He’ll be a major distraction if he is back next season and not the starter so they need to just cut ties with him. They will save $3.5 million in cap space by cutting him…Jeff Cumberland was brought back when things were uncertain at the tight end position, but Jace Amaro is the future in New York and Cumberland is inconsistent. He will earn $1.9 million next year, which isn’t much, but he likely doesn’t fit into the team’s future….With Rex Ryan gone one would imagine that Calvin Pace will strongly consider retirement. Pace has a $2.125M salary in 2015 that can be avoided by not picking up his option.

Offseason Plan

The Jets have not had a successful draft period since the 2006/07 seasons. That has depleted their roster of good young talent outside of a few first round picks.  When you look for key positions in place to build around the Jets have few. They have the defensive line in place but need a quarterback, cornerback, outside linebacker(or pass rushing DE if they switch defenses), wide receiver and, soon, left tackle to rebuild the core of the team. They need a new approach to their draft process and a bit of luck to get those positions in place.

The Jets have either avoided big ticket players or approached those players passively under John Idzik, and it’s probable that their next hire will have the exact opposite philosophy since Idzik was arguably the least popular person associated with the Jets among the fan base since Rich Kotite. The Jets are lagging behind the rest of the NFL in spending and have two years to catch up so it is likely they begin now considering they will have over $50 million in cap space and that is with Harvin on the roster.

Unfortunately for the Jets many of the strengths in free agency this year don’t really mesh with their needs.  Much like Oakland and other teams without a great talent base the Jets need to avoid free agents that are going to skew towards the older side of the age spectrum. With the Raiders and Browns both having large cap surpluses expect the Jets to be very aggressive with their offers to make sure they get the players they want even if it means spending a few extra dollars.

I would expect the team to target a pass rushers, 2nd tier corner, running back, backup QB and guard in free agency. Someone like a Jerry Hughes would be a great fit as he is young and productive but it is doubtful the Bills would ever let him walk away. There should be a number of running backs valuable and I would think the Jets would be in play on Mike Iupati at guard, though he may have less shelf life than others. With Idzik out it would not surprise me if the Jets consider finding a right tackle this year to upgrade over Breno Giacomini. Giacomini might be able to slide over to guard for the year if they made such a move.

The Jets will have the 6th pick in the draft and that could present an interesting scenario. They might need to make a trade if they want to draft a QB, but with so many holes on the roster he would have to be an exceptional prospect to make the trade. I’m not sure that prospect exists this year. Negatively if you don’t grab a QB then 2015 becomes some combination of Geno Smith and a Matt Moore type. They could also trade down to try to gain more picks.

I would think if they cant make a move in the draft they want to come away with some combination of receiver, cornerback, defensive end/outside linebacker, inside linebacker, or offensive lineman in those first three rounds of the draft. The Jets really need to hit on those first three picks to begin what looks to be a long process of the getting a strong enought team to get back to the playoffs.

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  • The one comment I will make about the Jets QB situation is this: The Jets must make it clear, at the start of the FA period, whether they are going to give Geno Smith one more season to prove himself, or that they are going to give him permission to seek a trade. They need to be clear and explicit about this once free agency begins.

    There is an argument to be made that the Jets should give Smith one more season, given that the offensive coordinator position has been an issue for the Jets the past two seasons. If you do that, though, then be clear that, while Smith may be given another chance in 2015, it’s up to him to show he can be the long-term answer. If you go that route, though, you better make sure your veteran backup is clearly there to be the backup, and only start if it becomes clear Smith isn’t the answer.

    There is also an argument that it’s best to trade Smith and start anew. In that case, your veteran QB you sign in FA should be one who has some starting experience, but where everybody knows that he’s only starting for the short term, and might not even start if he loses a QB competition. If the Jaguars can get a sixth-round pick for Blaine Gabbert, then the Jets should be able to get one for Smith, and might be able to get a conditional pick in 2016, dependent on how Smith does for his new team.

    Personally, I think it’s best for the Jets to trade Smith and start anew entirely, as that makes it clear to the fanbase and media that it will truly be a fresh start. The Jets just need to be careful about how they approach the draft and not go “all in” on a move up the board. I’m sure the Jets fans would turn cartwheels if they traded up for Jameis Winston, but that doesn’t mean it’s a move that’s going to help the Jets in the long term.

    I will say that the pessimist in me says that Woody Johnson will try to pressure his new GM into making such a move for Winston, or might push for a trade for Jay Cutler, should the Bears put him on the trading block.

    Regarding Cutler, while that would mean a chance to unload Geno Smith, it would also mean giving up draft picks that could be better utilized to fill other needs. Plus you are now committing yourself to Cutler for the next two years, unless you are fortunate enough to get Cutler to renegotiate the guaranteed money in his contract (although I doubt that will happen).

    • a57se

      Marty Mornhinweg did everything humanly possible to help Geno Smith become a competent NFL QB. MM and David Lee should be given medals for their work.

    • McGeorge

      Trade Geno? Who wants him and what will they give up for him? A 7th round pick? I’ll take it.

      Sign a mediocre temporary QB for a year or two, maybe Jake Locker. (who gets injured all the time).

    • I dont think a trade for Geno is viable. Gabbert only fetched a 6 because he is a top draft pick and the 49ers like these reclamation projects. I think the only avenue for him to be gone is to be cut. That said I agree taht if he isnt the guy they shouldnt keep him around.

      Cutler in NY would be such a disaster. I wanted to draft Cutler when we took Ferguson and was hoping they would have traded up using the Mangold pick to get him but then Denver jumped up. I wanted him again a few years ago when he was on the block. But after watching him in Chicago Id want no part.Hed crack with the media and probably get into a fight with Harvin.

      I still blame Shanahan for alot of Cutlers bad habits. Shanahan is pretty much an offensive genius and got a ton out of him but he also was an enabler and made Cutler think he was the gift from the football gods. His ego was already massive and they just fed into it in Denver. Maybe playing in a losing college program hurt to as it became too much about him and less about winning. Id say Shanahan pulled a lot of the same nonsense with RGIII and then realized he couldnt bring RGIII back to earth when there were problems.

  • a57se

    Jason, nice job but I disagree completely about Harvin.
    The Jets do NOT need two high priced WR’s when they don’t have a legit QB.
    We have Decker and Kerley. Now we need to develop other WR options and TE’s as well as RB’s who can actually contribute in the passing game.
    Harvin sucked the wind out of the Jets offense as he requires being the focus. Look at the breakdown of targets with havin in the line-up and Harvin out of the line-up.

    • McGeorge

      I’m with you. The Jets don’t need him for 6+MM.
      He got injured yet again and didn’t finish the Patriots game.
      The Jets have no QB to throw to him. Better let him go, or sign him for less.
      Let some other team have him for 6.6MM.

      • Anthony

        This is typical Jets Fan nonsense. Complain about having no talent on offense… rant and rave to cut that talent we now have.

        This team has 50 million in cap space next year, and you are complaining that our #1 receiver who also is an elite kick returner, and runs the ball out of the backfield is over payed by 4 million dollars.

        • McGeorge

          It’s one thing to say a player is over paid. It’s another if that player has a history of injury and attitude problems. Because in that case you aren’t getting that players services, and still need additional players..

          Is Harvin our #1 receiver? Is he really that good as a receiver? He’s good at hand offs (the jet sweep) but how consistently good is he as a receiver?

          I wouldn’t sign hem “because we have 50MM in cap space”.
          But I might sign him if due to the CBA the jets would have to write checks in 2 years. In that case, they should consider keeping him, provided they reach a sane contract, not 10MM year.
          Revis at 15MM/year is worth more to the Jets than Harvin at 10MM (with his injuries and attitude)

    • Im not a Harvin fan and think hes a less talented version of Santonio Holmes, but if they dump him it brings them right back to square 1 with the position. The way I look at it is if they bring someone in to play QB through the draft they need to give the player some options. For as much as I dislike him I cant deny he made Christian Ponder at least look competent. I think its just up to a staff to put him in his place as a short game option and not some down the field threat.

      Now if they want to draft a WR with the 6 or sign one of the top guys if they hit FA thats a different story, but Id rather have Harvin, Decker, Kerley as my top 3 than Decker, Kerley and TJ Graham. Maybe they develop but Id rather not risk the chance that they dont and we are all sitting here talking about how a young QB had no talent

      • a57se

        It was a mistake to trade for Harvin in the first place. This team is NOT ready to contend for a title and is probably 2-3 years away at a minimum. Why waste assets on a guy like Harvin who has a short shelf life and doesn’t have the talent to justify such an expense???
        The Jets are not going to buy their way to a SB…

        • Remember because the Jets have been such low spenders under Idzik we have to spend the money somwhere over the next two seasons. If not the team has to pay extra to the guys who were on the roster. Id prefer to be cutting a check to Harvin and keeping my fingers crossed on him than paying more money to Kyle Wilson because he just happened to be on the roster during a down spending period.

          This is one of those soft points that people didnt see with the Idzik never spend philosophy- agents will have some leverage over the Jets now because of the huge cap surplus and the fact that the Jets need to spend real cash.

          • McGeorge

            Jason,
            I’m sure you know a lot more about the CBA than I do, but my understanding (which could be wrong) is that the salary floor needs to be met on a rolling 5 year basis. So if a team is way under the floor (the jets) they have how many years to spend that money?
            If the Jets have a window of 2 seasons, and they “over pay” Mo Wilkerson (i.e. lets say he’s worth 11MM and they pay 12.5 MM/year)” then how much extra do they have to invest in free agents/players?
            Maybe it’s worth keeping Harvin, but his injury history and bad attitude concern me.

            Maybe the Jets should trade for Cutler (to soak up the extra cap money) and demand draft picks as well, since they are helping out the Bears. (i.e. Cutler is a negative asset and the draft picks are a positive asset)

          • Its a 4 year basis so the Jets have two years to play catch up. Off the top of my head I cant recall how low they were but I think they were only above the Jaguars. The payroll is again low so first they have tons of money to be spent. Sure they can overpay for Wilkerson but can they overpay by $20 million? No chance and thats the kind of overpaying they would need to do to make it work.

            No doubt Harvin is a bad locker room guy but I think you just have to hope a coach controls it. The team just has such bad talent. They have spent two years doing nothing but getting older at their good positions and cheaper everywhere else besides WR where they brought in Harvin and Decker. Taking more guys out of the mix just seems counter productive unless they have a replacement in mind. Thats a different story if they want to go out and sign a better team guy of similar or better performance. But I think its crazy to release Harvin to bring back a David Nelson.

          • Jim

            Absolutely the Jets need talent at WR, but let’s take an honest look at the FA class this year before we think about Harvin. I would take Cobb or Maclin (if available) over Harvin for similar money. I believe they have a 3 day window to negotiate with FA’s before the league year starts, which I presume to also be the date they would have to cut Harvin, else the conditional pick to Seattle becomes a 4th rd pick instead of a 6th rd pick.

          • a57se

            Before the Harvin trade the Jets were right below the 89% point based on 2013 and 2014 spending.
            If they hadn’t signed Harvin and the Cap had increased to $140 Million, they would have had to have spent ~ $144 Million in 2015 to stay at the 89% point. They could have spent over the hard cap for several years and still only be at the 89% point.
            With the holes on the roster and all the FA’s this year, they would not have had any difficulty spending that money.

            Your logic is flawed…

          • The Jets were well below the 89% point before Harvin. They were the lowest spending team in the NFL, about $20 million under the 89% figure. Even now if you pulled him off the team the Jets would have to spend around $70 million in cash beyond their current payroll this year to get back to the mark. Its more or less requiring them to be near the top of the NFL in spending which is not a place you want to be when you only have one or two players worthy of a pricey extension. At this point the Jets should want Harvin on the roster in free agency just to give the appearance they have less money to spend even if they plan on cutting him. FWIW I believe that is one of the reasons they carried Sanchez at the price they did last year to give agents less ammo in negotiations.

          • a57se

            I went throught the numbers a couple months ago and posted them on TJB…it is not as dire as you aremaking it sound.
            This was one of the few things Idzik got right. The Harvin move was desperation on his part and would not have been made if the Jets would have been doing better.

    • Anthony

      What stupid argument! Harvin SHOULD be the focus of the offense. You should always try to get the ball in your best players hands, as much as you possibly can. That is ALWAYS the plan.

      You think Tom Brady goes into games and thinks… “gee, Gronk is pretty good, but lets try to hit the other 6 guys on the team, I’m sure they will all contribute equally

      It is not like this was a Mike Tice / Randy ratio situation, its a matter of simply getting the team to play to its strength.

      In fact, as a fan that watched every game this season, sometimes multiple times on all 22, he made this team better. Those Jet sweeps opened up the inside of the line countless times. The threat of them was actually a contributing factor on some of the more successful draw and dive plays the team ran in the second half of the season.

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  • McGeorge

    I almost think the Jets should tank another year. They have no QB. Just fill holes. Don’t sign expensive QBs or WRs (unless it’s Dez Bryant – with some sort of team protection).
    I don’t think the Jets can get a QB this year.

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