Current Estimated 2016 Cap Space: $21.9 Million
Expected 2016 Cap Space: $35.3 million
Estimated Rookie Cap: $4.806 million
Players Under Contract: 59
Pro Bowlers: 3
Unrestricted Free Agents: 20(4 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 20
Salary Cap Breakdown
Free Agents to Re-sign
Ryan Fitzpatrick got the team to respond to him and will be the best option they have this season. As long as the Jets keep it as a short term, reasonably priced contract not to exceed $10 million a year they need to bring him back…Damon Harrison is one of the best nose tackles in the NFL and it’s his work that covers for some of the deficiencies that exist with the linebackers…Though he struggled with injuries I believe that Bilal Powell carved himself a niche role as a third down option for the team…Erin Henderson played well down the stretch and should be in a position to compete for a starting job next year. I’d consider him on a two year deal…Calvin Pace won’t bring much of a pass rush but with such a need at the position and little options having him back as a veteran presence is worthwhile.
Free Agents to Let Walk
The most difficult decision for the Jets will come with Muhammad Wilkerson. Wilkerson is a star defensive end but with the Jets having other options at the position and so many other needs on the roster it may be hard to justify a $14 million contract. The time to have signed Wilkerson was really before last offseason or during the prior season and once that window passed so did getting any favorable terms and now it’s almost the same as signing a pure free agent. If the Jets can trade him off the franchise tag they should strongly consider it…Chris Ivory is too injury prone to rely on and the Jets should look elsewhere. It’s difficult to plan for games when you have a runner who is in and out of games so often…The Jets need to upgrade at inside linebacker and since David Harris is not going anywhere then Demario Davis needs to be let go. The team played better when he platooned more towards the end of the year…Stevan Ridley never found a role last season and Powell can do the job for him…Having Willie Colon as a veteran insurance policy might be reasonable but they should get younger or find someone with less ability to get penalties, both on and off the field.
Contracts to Modify
At a $14.1 million cap charge there is almost no way to justify D’Brickasaw Ferguson’s contract. Ferguson has had a tremendous run with the Jets but his last two years have seen more struggles than we are used to and that cap number is an albatross for the team. He played last year for about $3 million less than this season and the Jets, at the least, have to get him to take that much of a pay cut. Signing him to an end of career, moderate cost 2 or 3 year extension, similar to what the Steelers have done with players like Heath Miller and Troy Polamalu is the way to go here…The team can free up cap room by reworking the contracts of Brandon Marshall and Nick Mangold, both of whom are under contract through 2017. Marshall is the better candidate since I expect him to continue to play at a high level for another two years. I think with Mangold there is more risk. The Jets could also consider an “end of career” extension for Mangold as well. In either event a restructure here where money is deferred to 2017 is not a problem for the team…The Jets could offer Nick Folk a reduced contract and guarantee the figure rather than carrying him at a $3.3 million charge and having him compete in training camp…I would not, under any circumstance, move money around in Darrelle Revis’ contract despite the $17 million cap hit. The Jets need to leave every window open to bring Revis salary down in 2017 or possibly cut him. Once they restructure for cap relief in 2016 they virtually lock themselves into the 2017 season, which is too big of a risk to take.
Players to Consider Releasing
The Jets already made the easiest cut when they moved Antonio Cromartie’s $9 million salary off the books…The team can save $4.4 million by releasing Breno Giacomini. Given the Jets lack of depth on the line they probably should not make a move on Giacomini until they either find another option in free agency, or, more likely, the draft…Jeremy Kerley fell completely out of favor with the coaching staff last season and really has done little the last few seasons for the team. Cutting him saves $1.3 million…Jeff Cumberland will count for $1.9 million against the cap, all of which is saved if released. With Jace Amaro expected back and the Jets limited reliance on the position anyway gives little reason to keep Cumberland as well…I firmly believe the Geno Smith era is over and the team should look to trade him for a late conditional pick and take on the $1 million saved by doing so…If they could find anyone to take Dee Milliner off their hands the Jets should take that offer even if it is just for picking up some of his salary or bringing back another teams failed draft pick in return.
The discrepancy between the Jets’ 28th place ranking in True Cap Space but 13th place ranking in Commitment Index reflects the team’s strategy to concentrate guaranteed money in the form of base salary rather than signing bonus during 2015 free agency. The team limited its flexibility in 2016 at the expense of preserving moderate flexibility in 2017 and beyond. However, the Jets can always reverse this decision and gain additional 2016 flexibility by converting base salary to signing bonus and prorating such amounts.
Brandon Marshall’s Expected Outcome reflects the impact of incorporating a performance input into Expected Contract Value. His Expected Outcome would surely have been very low if calculated using ECV 1.1, but ECV 2.0 recognizes that preserving cap space is not necessarily worthwhile if it means releasing a productive player. The fact that Marshall’s 2016 Expected Outcome as calculated by ECV 2.0 so far exceeds his 2016 Expected Outcome as calculated by ECV 1.1 shows how much of a positive outlier he is in terms of production for his age.
James Carpenter, Marcus Gilchrist, Eric Decker and Breno Giacomini also maintain ECV 2.0 Expected Outcomes greater than ECV 1.1 Expected Outcomes, and Darrelle Revis and Buster Skrine are right in line with such a performance-neutral contract outcome expectation. This suggests that the Jets have been effective in recent years in choosing which veterans to acquire in free agency and trades.
Expected Contract Outcomes – Expected Contract Value 2.0 utilizes an algorithm based on a player’s contract characteristics, age, position and 2015 performance to forecast probabilities as to the outcomes of contract termination decisions. The lower the Expected Outcome, the more likely the player’s contract will be terminated in 2016. A pay cut is treated as a termination. We have applied ECV 2.0 to all contracts scheduled to count $2 million or more against the 2016 salary cap with the exception of exercised 5th year rookie options. Expected Savings is the calculated by multiplying the probability a player will be released by the cap savings realized by the team upon such release.
|Expected Change in Cap Room
True Cap Space – Realizable Cap Space depicts the total amount of salary cap space potentially at the team’s disposal in 2016, and True Cap Space makes further adjustments to take into consideration amounts that are accounted for in practical terms. Most True Cap Space will be used on players currently under contract as a result of the team choosing to not release them.
|True Cap Space (2016)
|Adjusted Salary Cap
|Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts
|Realizable Cap Space
|Fully Guaranteed Salary
|Minimum Salary Cap Holds
|True Cap Space
Commitment Index – Commitment Index identifies the degree to which a team has “mortgaged its future” by measuring its net future salary cap commitments as a percentage of the average net future salary cap commitments of all teams. A Commitment Index Score of 100% is average, and a negative Commitment Index Score indicates that the team has more current salary cap space than future salary cap commitments. The Commitment Index Score of every team in the league changes to at least some degree with every transaction executed by any team in the league, so Commitment Index Score is measured as of a specific point in time (in this case, January 11, 2016).
|Commitment Index (2017+)
|Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts
|Fully Guaranteed Salary
|Current Cap Space
|Commitment Index Score
|League Rank (1st = Most Committed)
The Jets are in a bit of a tricky spot with their roster. The lack of good drafting and free agent acquisitions during the brief John Idzik tenure as GM and the final years of the Mike Tannenbaum era put the Jets in a position last year where they had to make up 4 years of roster mismanagement in one season. They did that by becoming a pretty veteran laden team through trade and free agency that somehow came together and nearly made the playoffs. But with those wins come expectations and I’m not sure if you can look at the roster and see a team that has that roster to get to 10 wins again.
Key pieces of the offensive line are closer to retirement than their prime years. For as good as Fitzpatrick was at times last year he is the type of quarterback that teams look to replace almost as soon as the ink is dry on a contract. The running back position needs to be more consistent. The linebackers are below average and getting older. Revis is not going to find the fountain of youth to cover for mistakes in the secondary.
Do the Jets go all in, rework a bunch of contracts to hit free agency again, and try to get something more out of this group in the next year or two? They might but that carries the big risk that sent the team in a tailspin after 2011 when they were locked in on an expensive, aging roster of diminishing returns. They have done a good job on the contract front of trying to prevent that by limiting the guarantees and signing bonuses of the older players on third contracts, but you can only do so much on that end to keep flexible.
Or do the Jets take last year for what it was- a success at bringing back the fanbase to the team and building confidence in a new front office and coaching staff for the future. That allows them to continue to rebuild by moving off tradeable assets like a Wilkerson, finding bargain free agents, and letting draft picks develop until the youth is carrying the team and the free agent splash can fill in those gaps when you know the team is poised to make a real run in the playoffs.
My feeling is the Jets are better off taking the latter approach. They did something similar way back in 2007 when the Jets ran a shocking 2006 campaign into the playoffs but played it safe the following year to build the core for the future. The Jets took a big hit in that 2007 season, but focused on draft picks and having cap space for free agency in the future to build their most successful team in a decade.
The Jets should be able to find a running back to hold them over for the next year or two via free agency. They could go for a higher end player like Lamar Miller, but if they keep Powell and signed a two back player like Alfred Morris it could give them big potential at a low cost. Morris had looked special in Washington in the past before falling out of favor in the last year.
There are names at right tackle the Jets should look at. Mitchell Schwartz is the top free agent but there is also Joe Barksdale, Chris Clark, and Andre Smith as lower cost options. What the Jets do here could also depend on what they envision as the future for Ferguson. If the Jets draft a tackle they might look more for someone to lay the right side this year and then swap to left in the near future. That would probably block the Jets from going after anyone of note in free agency.
Would the Jets consider a younger QB in free agency? I guess it’s possible. I don’t see the fit of Colin Kaepernick on a trade as some have speculated, but I would take a flier on a Robert Griffin. If the team can not come to terms with Fitzpatrick that of course changes the whole dynamic at which point they would be in the mix on Brock Osweiler, Griffin, Chase Daniel, or a Drew Stanton as a stopgap.
The Jets clearly need both inside and outside linebackers but I don’t see those fits coming in free agency this year. There are a few names like Danny Trevathan or Jerrell Freeman that could be a fit, but it is probably better to go cheap and young than the free agent route. Given the age of Harris, Pace, etc…they need those younger players to develop now.
I don’t think the door is totally shut on Cromartie returning but it would have to be at a much lower cost. They released him early I would think so he could gauge interest around the NFL in him. There will be other veteran corners available but I would think this is also a position where the Jets go young. If they did bring in a veteran it would be on the lesser scale like the Cardinals Jerraud Powers, the Bucs Sterling Moore, etc… more as s failsafe than anything else. The Jets are so overinvested at CB its hard to really see them signing anyone.
Even if the Jets bypass free agency this year it doesn’t mean they will crash and burn next year. They have very good wide receivers and one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, with or without Wilkerson. The secondary may not be the best in the NFL but it should be above average. If Fitzpatick returns and limits his mistakes there is no reason the Jets cant compete for the playoffs. But their future lies in developing the talent from last years draft and hopefully hitting a home run somewhere in this years draft. If they feel they have to rely on free agency again I would be a little worried about the long term future of the team.