Jets Financial Obligations at the QB Position

Since I know its certainly a big topic of discussion with the New York Jets drafting a QB I wanted to discuss the possibility of cutting the other Jets QBs, though clearly the person on the biggest hot seat is Mark Sanchez.

Mark Sanchez currently carries a cap charge of $12,853,125 which consists of $8,250,000 in base salary, $4,103,125 in bonus prorations, and a $500,000 workout bonus. The base salary is fully guaranteed with no offset provisions meaning the Jets are on the hook for $8.25 million in cash regardless of whether or not Sanchez plays for the Jets or another team. For the Jets to cut him they have to be willing to pay that money to Sanchez, likely within 30 days of cutting him.

The dead money cost of cutting Sanchez is $17,153,125, which results in a loss of $4.3 million in cap space. The Jets restructured the contract of LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson on Thursday to create over $5 million in cap space that in theory could have been used during draft weekend in the event the Jets drafted a QB. The restructure was not done after the 1st round so the way the draft unfolded played no part in the restructure. It would have just been preparing for the possibility.

To save cap room Sanchez could be designated a June 1 cut. If the Jets did that they would defer $4.8 million in dead cap charges to 2014. The Jets would actually gain $500,000 in cap space in 2013 if they made that decision, however with free agency all but finished it is hard to see the benefit of such a move. John Idzik and the Jets may simply be following in the mold of the Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders where they take a year of financial pain to clear the books completely for next season. As I have discussed before the Jets could easily have close to $50 million in cap room next year by proper cap management, which began with the trade of Darrelle Revis.

Before cutting ties with Sanchez the Jets could look to trade him. The market for 1st round busts has always been there and most teams would be willing to pay somewhere between $2 and $3 million for a player like Sanchez. Compensation would not be much but the Jets could save more money if they did that. If a team was willing to take him for a late draft pick on Saturday at a $2 million salary the dead money would drop to about $15 million in 2013.

The Jets could also potentially restructure Sanchez’ contract. I cant see Sanchez being amenable to that scenario but it was a move the Jets made in 2006 with Chad Pennington where he was given a chance to compete and to earn his money back via performance. At the time the Jets were looking to start Patrick Ramsey, a 1st round bust of the Redskins, and after the Pennington restructure still drafted Kellen Clemens in the 2nd round. In such a move the Jets would prorate the money they owe Sanchez this year but he would need to take a backup salary from 2014 thru 2016 of $1 to $2 million year.  Such a move really does not benefit either side as Sanchez’ dead money would increase in the future and his caps would still be around $4.5 million a year, too high of a charge for a backup. If the Jets did have offsets in his contract they would have more leeway in a paycut but they have no leverage now.

Tim Tebow currently carries a cap charge of $2,586,875. The Jets have already explored that trade market and it does not exist. The Jets still owe the Broncos $1,531,875 from last seasons trade so if Tebow is cut that money is shipped to Denver regardless and impacts the Jets salary cap this season.

The Jets paid David Garrard a $100,000 signing bonus to go along with a non-guaranteed $1 million base salary. If the Jets cut Garrard the only charge is the $100,000 signing bonus. Garrard has not played in the NFL in 2 years and is injury prone which could make the Jets cautious about moving forward with him now. ..Greg McElroy carries minimal cap penalties if released. His dead money is only $32,576.

While the Jets did carry Pennington, Ramsey, and Clemens in 2006 there would be little to gain from this situation now. Sanchez, if named the starter, would have an incredibly difficult time at home with a newly drafted prospect sitting on the bench. The home crowd was brutal to Sanchez is his last two home games and it got so bad the Jets pulled him against Arizona and did not play him in their home finale against the Chargers opting instead to play McElroy who was not ready for the speed of a NFL game on that day.

Logically the Jets should release Sanchez on Monday if they cant work a trade out for him on Saturday. It clears the books which is what the Jets are looking to do as they prepare to turn this all around in 2014, the same as the Raiders. John Idzik was around a situation last year where he had a mid priced QB in Matt Flynn, low cost rookie in Russell Wilson, and mid priced veteran in Tarvaris Jackson. That same situation to me would be Tebow, Garrard, and Geno Smith. One player is maintained after the summer and one is released or traded.  Of course nothing would surprise me with the Jets and maybe the person to be cut is Tebow and the Jets hope they can still do something with Sanchez rather than to pay him while he plays elsewhere.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/maafla1 Michael Aaronson

    Sanchez’s money is a sunk cost – you’re paying it no matter what. The decision has to be made to either have him compete for the starting job vs. Garrard & Smith or just let him go. Nobody will trade for him or Tebow. If it were me, I’d cut him at the “least bad” time – where the cap hit is $12 million instead of $16 million. In short, cut your losses before they get worse.

    • Nigel McSween

      I guess i am not 100% convinced Sanchez can’t play and since we save nothing by cutting him i’d like to keep him. At worst he would be a competent backup, at best he somehow competes against Smith and wins the job.

      That is my biggest problem with the way Sanchez was handled as he was installed as the starter by default and never had to really compete for the job over his 4yrs. Mark Brunell, McElroy and Tebow were not real competition. I can’t forget the 2 back to back championship games either, i’d like Sanchez be given a chance to win the job with Santonio back, new running backs and offensice coordinator.
      Cutting Sanchez now could also backfire for Idzik. If Geno is not ready the Jets could only win like 2 or 3 games this year given their schdule and their roster.Say all you want about rebuilding Jet fans won’t tolerate that especially after decision to trade Revis. Besides why pay Sanchez full salary to be a top backup for another team when your only real backup to Geno would be Garrard.
      Jets need to win 5 or 6 games this year and if you have to a starting Sanchez can win you 5 or 6 games.

  • http://www.facebook.com/heydad Glenn Heydad Basden

    Excellent article!

    • http://www.facebook.com/philip.dutton.75 Philip Dutton

      Excellent as always Jason. I’m wondering if you’ll venture your thoughts as to how the Jets i.e. Idzik did in his first Jets draft and your opinion of Idzik’s off season as a whole thus far. I’m just a fan of nearly 40 years but I like to read and find the bulk of the drivel put forth by the media to be abject lazy journalism. If I see one more writer give the Pats an “A” for this years draft, I’ll vomit. I’m a firm believer in the fact that no season is wholly won or lost in the off-season though good teams tend to have good drafts and solid free-agency signings. I also realize that in many ways the Jets organization has brought on the “circus” garbage themselves. I can’t really remember a team that went to two championship games back-to-back, were media darlings and then had such a precipitous fall from grace. That being said, I truly feel the bulk of the writers out there covering the NFL are just downright lazy, uncreative and fearful of actually venturing an original opinion. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this…I think Idzik could be a real GM from the way he is proceeding: far more thoughtful, deliberate and football smart than Mike Tannenbaum ever was. Certainly Tannenbaum had his moments but he truly got caught up in Rex’s boastful. over-confident, “we’ll just win because I say we will” attitude. I’m duly impressed with how Idzik is actually “building” the team-literally from the ground up. Linemen. Lots of them. Deal away the over-priced, forever-holding-out corner diva with a bad knee for some picks. Remove the salary cap burden and the headache. How many Super bowls did Mevis lead the Jets to again? Find some rugged RB’s that don’t cost a fortune. (I mean seriously..Joe McKnight at RB? Really?). Yes, we need a receiver or two, a TE and maybe a LB’er or two. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and Ifeel the Jets are built better now than the beginning of last year.
      sea season. I w

      • Bob Iver

        I could not disagree with you more. Tannebaum in his years here brought us santonio holmes, braylon edwards, kris jenkins, darelle revis, mangold and brick, cromartie, thomas jones, ressurected LT, Wilkerson, coples, etc. He was a great Gm and suffered an 8-8 season and then a 6-10 season and thus was axed. Id argue it was the whole tebow thing and the insane amount of injurie we had last year. If DK, S.Hill, Revis, And tone are reasonably healthy most of the year, I say 9-7 or 10-6. We forget how Sanchez absolutely lit up the bills the one game he had all his weapons. Lit up.

        As to Idzik, I’d argue that most of the draft was pretty bad. He traded an all-pro, best cb of all time for a 13th round pick (we’d get that third regardless). One he used on a developmental Defensive lineman. Sure, Milliner seemed like a no brainer, but he’s not in the patrick peterson of Joe Haden class of cornerbacks in potential… he was just the best CB in a fairly average CB class. And The Geno Smith pick is technically good value, but I have zero faith in Geno Smith as a prospect. He had arguably better talent on the offensive side of the ball at WVU than he has on the jets right now, and he completely got destroyed in some games. For all the crap Sanchez gets for being mentally weak, we have seen many games out of him where he stepped up, (given he’s not throwing to clyde gates) and pulled together fantastic come backs under pressure. Geno Smith seems to operate only again’st cupcake defenses… in all honesty we’ll see how it plays out but, i’m not in favor. As to the rest of the team, we seem to be lauding Idzik like some genius when he picked up some cheap retreads. Mike Goodson and Chris Ivory have been third and fourth stringers up to this point in their careers. Antonio garay, Willie Colon, and David Garrard are old and injured. He didn’t pull off anything magnificent. And I hated, I MEAN HATED, the rest of the draft. Pick up three straight guards, and passed on Baccari Rambo to pick up a development DT to try and make him a Guard? Just insane. Then a FB.

        Honetly, I think Idzik is just tearing the team down and turning it into an expansion team. We are joining teams like the jaguars, bills, dolphins, browns, raiders, lions, bengals who have been in perpetual rebuild for the last 10-20 years with their highly coveted top ten picks, but it means nothing in culture of losing. Mike T. was aggresive. He went for sanchez, Favre, Revis, Cro, etc. to give us two great shots at a championship. Idzik is just pulling us down into a pit of ineptitude and irrelevance. If we do cut sanchez, D.Harris, Santonio, and Cro Next year, we are down to almost a talentless team and looking at 4-6 year realistic rebuild, because the only free agents who will sign with an expansion team are those that are going to be over paid and looking to simply cash in and don’t care about winning.

  • Nigel McSween

    Thanks for the article. I say cut Garrard and Mcelroy, if i understand your article correctly the Jets would only be on the hook for 132k combined. You save nothing by cutting Sanchez now and a 2nd round draft pick like Gino might not be ready or get injured. Sanchez and Tebow are young former 1st round picks who have actually won NFL games. Tebow should be a number 3 and maybe play some special teams. Let Sanchez and Gino compete, if Sanchez wins and plays better maybe you could generate some value for a trade.

    Garrard is shot and has not played in years. If Gino emerges we can cut Tebow and Sanchez loose next year with no real hit.

  • GC

    Jason – Quick Question about the lack of an offset in Sanchez’s contract.
    I simply dont understand why a team would ever write a contract that doesnt contain an offset. How does it benefit the player enough to take it out. It appears the player gets the exact same amount of money regardless and all this does is potentially crush the Team as is happening now.

    Any idea why this would happen/be a negoitiating point?

    Thanks

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