Free Agency Thoughts: New York Jets


Key Additions: Eric Decker ($7.5M per year), Breno Giacomini ($4.5M), Mike Vick ($4M), Dimitri Patterson ($3M)

Key Re-Signings: Nick Folk($3M per year), Calvin Pace($2.5M), Willie Colon($2M), Jeff Cumberland($1.9M)

Key Losses: Austin Howard (Raiders)

Major Cuts: Antonio Cromartie($9.5M cap savings),Mark Sanchez($8.3M), Santonio Holmes($8.25M)

Free Agency Thoughts:

There were many who expected the Jets to be active in free agency and for the most part the team sat on the sidelines. The Jets saved $26.05 million in cap room with the three big cuts and added just $23.05 in 2014 cap commitments to the 10 free agents they brought in or re-signed. In general the Jets seem committed to rebuilding through the draft, where they have 12 picks this season, as most of the contracts are nothing more than one year deals.

The best contract signing was Decker at $7.5 million a year. While Decker played with a great QB in Denver his career has progressed nicely and the price is a bargain compared to what some receivers received in free agency in 2013. The Jets best asset on offense was throwing deep last year and this should only help them in that regard…Giacomini is a better value play than Howard, but I think there will always be questions about changing the continuity on the offensive line if age is not a factor so there could be a slight risk to that strategy.

The decision to sign Vick is certainly one that will be analyzed closely. Vick hasn’t been effective since 2011 and is a walking injury. His skill-set does not really complement QB Geno Smith to say that the team can insert Smith and run the same offense if Vick starts and goes down. If Vick wins the job and ends up on the sidelines for whatever reason during the year and Smith struggles many will blame Vicks presence as stifling the growth of Smith.  Vick isn’t guaranteed to start as he is earning high end backup money, but his athleticism should shine in the preseason.

The most questionable move will be the swap of Patterson and Cromartie. Cromartie was a popular player among fans and the coaching staff but struggled badly in 2013. He did play through injury but there has always been concerns that once Cromartie lost a step it would be over. Considering Patterson is also an injury waiting to happen and couldn’t even stick with the Cleveland Browns the Jets clearly made it known that they think Cromartie is finished as Cromartie signed with Arizona for a similar price.

The remainder of the signings are pretty much no-risk, veteran holds. Nick Folk desperately wanted a long term $3 million a year contract and the Jets obliged with a funny money type contract that holds less guarantees than his original Franchise tender. Pace and Colon are players that started last season and would start again if no draft pick can stake claim to the job. The Jets only guaranteed $1.5 million between the two of them so if they grab a pass rusher and guard high in the draft both are in danger of not sticking with the team. The Jets overpaid slightly for Cumberland and his contract is the only one that shows hey see a significant upside in him.

Overall Grade: C-

Grading free agency for a team not looking to build or even enhance much through it is difficult. There is almost no risk to what the Jets did which is a positive, but the upside is very limited. Despite all the money that had at their disposal they only improved at two spots- wide receiver and backup QB. You would have thought that they would have been able to find a defensive back and/or interior lineman that could have contributed for three years at a moderate cost. Safety, corner, and guard are three spots that the team could look back on with regret in October depending on how the draft picks develop. Nailing down at least one of those spots in free agency should have been a priority to reduce the natural risks associated with the draft, especially considering the Jets have close to $30 million in cap space.




  • Harlan Lachman

    Jason, I love it when someone who is respected agrees with me. The Jets will have a chance or two to get a starting CB in this year’s draft (and it worked so well right from the start with Milliner). OTOH my read of the experts is that the Safety class is weak and unless other teams bend over to help the Jets, they are not likely to get anyone in a value spot this year. Plus the Jets have not shown an ability to draft OL except with first rounders. Hence at a minimum they should have taken advantage of what seemed to me to be a depressed FA market at least at G and S and probably CB too. If I read you site correctly, Woody is paying only $90 million for this years continuation of frustration, saving $40 million. Good for him. Bad for football and especially long suffering Jet fans.

    • Steven Windeler

      That 26mil will be spent next year, or the following. Cap space is transferable now.

      • Harlan Lachman

        Have you any idea of the interest/earning power of $40,000,000 for one year? And since my understanding is that the spending requirement is a four year average, why do you think it will only be one year?

        • Anthony

          Why do you keep saying 40 million when the Jets only have 26 million in cap space left? Why do you insist that the team will not sign/resign players (including 12 draft picks), trades or any other player moves between now and 11 months from now?

          • Harlan Lachman

            Anthony, there is cap money, how much is counted against the cap; including dead money and portions of bonuses paid in previous years and then there is cash money, the amount of money Woody has to write checks for to cover this year’s expenses. While the Jets have 2014 cap spending of just under $100.9 million, their cash spending, how much Woody has to spend in 2014, is only under $90.9 million.Jason estimates today that the Jets have $26 million they could spend in cap space, (I assume the difference between this and the 133 million cap is the money reserved for draft picks), Woody is therefore spending about $40 million less than the maximum cap.

            While over this year and the next three, the Jets have to average 89.9% of the available cap, by waiting to do that until later, Woody has use of the difference in cash spending and the max cap to invest as he sees fit. People with $40 million that they can tie up for 2 years have different options than you and I and expect different returns. Plus, money today is worth more than money tomorrow. In other words, from a purely selfish perspective, Woody is better off deferring his cap spending for this year and next and investing that money in markets reserved for the rich.

            If you think Woody is as bad a businessman as he is an owner of an NFL team, then you likely think he doesn’t know that and it has no impact on his decisions.

      • Reprocity

        If we had more talent there would be less money to transfer to the next season. We already have a lot of cap room next year plus the cap will go up so transferring $ doesn’t improve your team and just makes more holes to fill down the road ie like the CB situation this year did.

    • Not getting a safety made little sense to me. The prices were not as high for some as anticipated and I dont think the Jets even looked. Maybe they are high on who they have but if they were that high they would not have brought Ed Reed in last year. Cornerback made little sense either.

      • Anthony

        The Jets Currently have 5 Safety’s on the roster, 3 of whom started last year. Ed Reed is still, as of this writing an UFA, and with 12 picks in the draft, probably one will be selected. Antonio Allen is, by all accounts an above average safety, especially at covering TE’s and playing the run. Landry is average in coverage, and Jarrett is a box Safety. Bush will be in his third year in Rex’s system and Miles will be in his second and I believe (and I assume both rex and idzek feel) that continuity in the back line will aid in it’s improvement. After all, in his first 4 seasons as HC, Rex has had 4 different sets of safeties start the year. This will be the first time they will have had a full season’s worth of experience together.

        As for corner, that is another spot for competition. This keeps getting talked about like the Jets have not a single corner besides Dee Miliner on the roster. Once we pencil Miliner into one spot, Wilson into the slot, we have Patterson/Walls/Lankster/rookie?, of whom we only need one to emerge as a viable starting option.

        Either we believe in competition or we don’t. Either we believe that Rex is a defensive/teaching genius who can turn a solid prospect into an average or above player in this league or we don’t. I choose to believe that will experience and time, he can and therefore I am not terribly concerned about the back line. The depth looks great so far.

        • George Proteus

          The keys to Rex Ryan defenses (and you can say this in Baltimore too) were always established players that had been so before Rex Ryan. Revis, Harris, Ellis, Rhodes, Pace, Thomas. They added in established players like Scott, Cromartie, Taylor. As far as picks in the interim, the hit on 1 st round DL, likely hit on a 2nd, the juries very out on 2 other 1st rounders and they missed big on a 1st rounder. 5 defensive picks in the 1st in the last 4 years. Otherwise, they’ve developed very little as the defense has slid backward from top of the league to average. So it’s a stretch of the imagination to think that there’s any reason to believe he can just cover several holes with a bunch of well in decline aging/ injury prone player, fringe roster guys and JAGS. The success was there always attributable to quality, expensive, often prime-age veteran talent. They made the investment with money and when those players got too old and/ or expensive, they tried to replace them with investment at the top of the draft (with decidedly mixed results). He was never dependent of developing something out of nothing and never turnied nobodies into stars.. And now that loaded unit is almost scattered to the wind.

          And we won’t even get into the mess the offense was turned into from day one.

        • Reprocity

          Having players on the roster doesn’t mean they are good. If they’re not starter quality then continuity isn’t helping you in fact it’s holding the team back from being better. We could have kept Wayne Hunter for continuity…

    • Anthony

      The Jets spent 3 picks last year on G’s. They retained both starting guards from last season, and managed to spend the entire season carrying an offensive 10 offensive lineman last season on the active roster. I would not be opposed to using a 1st on Zach Martin, but the truth is that all 5 starting spots are manned by league average or better players right now.

      Also, that 26 million they have saved up will probably go, at some point this year, towards locking up Harrison, Ellis, Wilkerson and Kerely on long term, team friendly deals. Wilkerson himself could be front loaded to be around 8 million a year, essentially putting him under team control another 6 seasons (thx Jason for that tidbit). The Jets will probably also save up the cap room for more long term deals on Coples, Demario Davis and whoever else comes available next season in Free Agency.

      The 4 year average is irrelevant as all of the money essentially pools, and can be carried over limitlessly.

      • Harlan Lachman

        !) The rule supposedly is, “What are team minimum cash spends?Under the current CBA, Clubs have minimum cash spending requirements. For the years 2013-2016, Clubs are required to spend an average of 89% of the Salary Cap over the four-year period. League-wide, Clubs must spend an average of 95% of the Salary Cap over the four-year period.” NFLPA website. Average means one can spend less now and more later. Time value of money dictates that if a team is not focused on a Lombardi, deferring spending to when key contracts are up for franchise tags or renewal offers the most profit to the owner. If this makes no sense to you. Get Jason to put in in English.

        2) I don’t care how many picks any team spends on any position. The question is are the players NFL starters. A running team might be thought to benefit from OL who grade out well regarding run blocking (straight ahead and pulling). Maybe those three G are garbage. Maybe they are great. Whatever they are will be evident when the season opens as will the success of Idzik’s offseason.

        • Anthony

          There is no “time value” added to the equation. Because of pooling, teams have access to the funds whenever they choose to use them. Meaning 10 million from 2013 is not worth more than 10 million used in 2016. Put simply, for you, If the 4 year total of the cap at the end of the 2016 year is 500 million, the Jets need to have spent around 450 million (90%). The averages seem to be confusing you a bit, so I decided to use the full numbers.

          The league year began like a month ago, and the cap will not close until the final league day about 11 months from now. It stands to reason all funds must remain liquid, as a player can be resigned (possibly requiring a very large cash bonus) at any moment.

          Your statement about an owner investing 40 million in cash that could be spent on this team is ludicrous. Either you believe that this team is purposely tanking (really badly as they have 1 losing season in the rex ryan era) or you are simply uninformed. Jason does not have to translate that for me.
          Also, your measure of success will be what the team does on opening day of the season?

          I’ll wait to see how the season unfolds. In the case of young players, my measure of success will go much longer than that.

      • Reprocity

        Brian Winters is not average and Colon might not be healthy for a while. The only avg player on the oline is the new RT. You make a good point in that we’ve made a significant investment on oline projects.

  • Thomas McNeio

    Great balanced insight as always Jason. Two quick questions, besides the incoming rookies where else do the jets spend there remaining money? I forget do decent players for one reason or another become available durning camp, and do you see the Jets being very active then?

    • George Proteus

      Quick answer, they may sign Chris Johnson but that likely won’t be high value (a few million) and otherwise they don’t. There may be a player another team is willing to trade during or after the draft but then they’d just be giving up value for something they likely could’ve gotten a reasonable substitute for in free agency they’d simply likely have less financial commitment. IOW, there’s a very good chance they’re about done outside of the draft and bargain bin.

    • Players do become available in camp but I would only see the Jets being active if its a guy that comes dirt cheap. I would not say that its impossible for them to grab a vet but more likely they will use up some cap space on extensions for Wilkerson and Kerley.

  • George Proteus

    New administration same old philosophy that they can cover a QB draft mistake by investing huge resources into sub-star receivers. Didn’t work with Sanchez, won’t with Geno. Otherwise, 16M+ in per year dollars invested into post-prime, declining, injury prone roster fill. Slow playing the rebuild wouldn’t be a terrible decision if it even remotely came off like a decision. Instead Idzik talked to as many free agents as he possibly could have, he simply came off as hesitant, indecisive and incapable of pulling the trigger on most of them. This, in no way, looks like a plan to go into the draft to address all of these numerous needs they don’t even have any real likely solution to currently. As Rex even said, sometimes you swing and you miss. I don’t know that there much swinging though, it looked instead like Idzik went down looking while he waited for the perfect pitch. Either way, it was ugly.

    • George McGeorge

      >> Instead Idzik talked to as many free agents as he possibly could have, he simply came off as hesitant, indecisive and incapable of pulling the trigger on most of them.

      Only in the eyes of the Media.
      We don’t know what transpired, and we don’t know what his long term plan is.
      I’m not willing to draw conclusions at this point, because we don’t have much information.

      Im not thrilled with swapping Cromartie for Paterson, other than that, I’m ok with the off season.
      I’d have liked more help in the secondary. Oh well.

      • George Proteus

        We have a ton of information. However you want to filter it or what you choose to believe, is up to you.

        One of thing’s you can unequivocally say is that NY Jets have $26M in cap space still remaining at a point in the market where there is very little high side value historically and WR is the only place they’ve spent anything that doesn’t coincide with an equal or greater loss on the roster according to the market.

        There were absolutely players out there that they could’ve afforded to improve the team in at least an area or two among multiple needs. As far as the future… how that money can be spent otherwise… the Jets don’t even know that at this point. There is no crystal ball. You have no idea who will even be available down the road or what the market will shake out as. No one does. So, the idea of a “long-term plan” is fiction other than retaining money to use at a later date in an unknown way or not at all. Generally, the retention of this kind of money is for teams that have financial issues and are on a self-imposed cap… like the Bengals.

        They had money to spend that would not have hurt them down the road in any other way than the natural, inherent risk of free agency and they failed to spend it to address anything. Your telling me Eric Decker was the only good free agent they saw this year? The idea that there is a “grand plan”: at work here is dubious and naive.

        • RONBO19

          So why don’t you post on the SNY jets blog? We need you!

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  • Brett Fauntleroy

    I think the draft will tell the story of this year’s free agency. As it stands it appears Idzik is teaching Woody and Rex some restraint and not chasing the “hot” free agent. The team needs to get younger and build through value. The Jets are more than one player away from being a solid playoff team. Big picture this draft will also tell us who’s driving this bus, and if there is a good plan or not. If we get a WR and a offensive linemen within our first three picks, I’ll be encouraged.
    Last year’s pick of Geno told me that Woody was still making personnel decisions, Idzik was a yes man and we had no plan. Waiting for May 8th

    • Harvlis

      The draft and free agency are two different things. I agree with you that, we are more than one player away from being a solid playoff team. That is why the free agent market is so important. It is not that hard to rebuild quickly, between free agent veterans and the draft. Idzik could have done so much more. I agree with the article above. A good GM doesn’t have to chase the “hot” free agent. He has to have a plan and get talented players who fill the roles that are required for his plan. So far, Idzik’s plan is to save money. Depending on draft picks is a crap shoot that takes years to reap the benefits of. As a Jet fan — I want to win now. I think Idzik has blown it so far. Other players will be cut so, we can only hope that he gets some other veterans to add to our team. I would love to see him pick up another solid receiver, so that he does not have to draft a receiver with our first pick. Receivers normally take a few years to grow into the league.

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  • George McGeorge

    The Jets aren’t very good right now, despite their miraculous 8-8 record. I can see them reverting to 7-9 or 6-10 against a tougher schedule. I’m glad they are banking salary cap for the future.
    What the Jets really need is to draft well. This is Idziks first draft with his staff, lets see what he does.

    • RONBO19

      George Mcgeorge, You can forget the idea of banking hugh amounts of cap money for the future as the collective bargaining agreement mandates teams must use at least 88% of their cap money or its is dispersed among-st its players. Truthfully i dont recall the exact number of this years cap off the top of my head (I believe its about 130 million so if thats accurate I believe they need to spend at least 114 million.Obviously the need money for their draft picks (about 7 million ought to cover it) and un-drafted free agent signings as well.

      • Steven Windeler

        Maybe the cap space is able to be rolled over to next year. What may seem obvious to you, may be completely wrong. You should educate yourself.

        • RONBO19

          Steve, I’m not a cap expert like our new GM but I have read on the SNY site and heard discussions on the NFL network that say differently.If you are correct I happily bow to your wisdom! Until you show me where i can find something different I’ll stick with the 88% number.

      • Harlan Lachman

        RonBo, Jason is the cap guru. CBS sports says this year’s cap is $133 million. The 89% minimum spend is an average. From NFLPA website, “Clubs are required to spend an average of 89% of the Salary Cap over the four-year period.”

        The kindest one could say is that the Jets are waiting to find a Qb, lock up their core DL, and will then spend over a following year’s cap in order to comply with the minimum spend rule. There are carry over provisions that make this possible.

        • RONBO19

          Thank you Harlan. Next to the formula used to assign compensatory draft picks I do believe the NFL salary cap with all it nuances has got to be one of the trickiest things to navigate. That said, like many fed up Jet fans who eagerly looked forward to a more productive free agency period I think I get a little testy from hearing all the Idzik apologists making excuses for our lack of progress. Here’s the thing: Did we need to improve our secondary?Were there players at CB & Safety that would have dramatically improved the secondary? and did our GM do anything but low ball and later loose out on some of those players that could have fix those secondary problems? That’s my problem with this guy. Many give him all the credit for his deft handling of last off seasons cap mess.The fact is every move he made was already in place as mark Cannizaro predicted well before any of us here in Jetsville ever heard of John Idzik.Former G.M Mike Tannenbaum had already formulated the exact plan so I think Idzik is getting way to much credit for that. As for his first draft that supposedly produced 5 starters,,Really? Yes, Richardson is the real deal! Milliner & Geno have potential but have proven nothing at this point and Winters and Bohannon ranked at the very bottom at their respective positions and on almost any other team would have been bench or practice squad players.Lets no even get into Oboushi or Campbell who should have been relegated to the practice squad as well but were for some unexplained reason kept on the active roster ?

    • Harvlis

      The Jets have a very solid D-line rotation. They have Rex Ryan. Those two can keep them in most games. They have a decent running game. If Idzik would have done a better job with free agency, we would be right there with just about anyone. He had the opportunity to pick up solid CBs, Safeties,TE’s and WR’s. If he would have done that, and if he had a solid draft, we would be as competitive as any team. He still will have an opportunity, as players will get cut. If he did his job properly, we wouldn’t have to wait for years, in order to compete. I totally agree with the assessment of the article above.

    • RONBO19

      George, I agree. many Jet fans were encouraged by our 8-8 record which was probably a game or two better than many expected. Whats been forgotten in our exuberance is 4 of those wins were against teams that finished 4-12 and two other against 6-10 and another 8-8 team. Yes we do have some talented players on this roster. But a lot more will be required before anybody confuses us with a true contender. Again, you are correct as we need an great draft and hopefully, with his own hand picked staff, Idzik will improve on last years less than stellar draft that produced one true star of the future, 2 players that showed late promise and 4 others that have thus far been disappointing.

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  • Reprocity

    Worrying about saving money (or rolling it over) when you have ~ the most in the league is like bottling water on a sinking ship! We already have a ton of money for next year BEFORE rolling over what’s left this year. If Idziks strong suit is saving money and his weakness is spending it (outside of Decker) then we’re probably going nowhere as a franchise. The blogs are becoming split between homers and pessimists and very little room for opinions to be heard that are well thought out like Jason’s here. IMO I’d give this offseason a C+