The New York Jets announced today that they will not pick up the option on running back but will pick up the options on veteran linebackers Calvin Pace and Jason Babin.
Johnson’s option was the largest of the three and valued at $500,000. Had the Jets picked the option up Johnson’s salary for the season would have been $3.5 million and his cap charge would have been $5.25 million. Because of the timing of the Johnson option the Jets will receive a $250,000 credit for cap charges attributed to Johnson in 2014. The total savings for the team will be $4 million, adding to an already robust total. Johnson will become a free agent on March 10.
Given that the Jets don’t want to pay Johnson $4 million it likely signals a very depressed market for Johnson. Johnson never lived up to the lofty contract he signed with the Titans many years ago and the Jets got little out of him last season. At this stage of the game he is probably a part time player worth $2 million or less that will need to show a real acceptance of a reduced role before a team would even consider adding him to the locker room.
Babin and Pace both had $250,000 option bonuses, but they came attached to much lower salaries than Johnsons. Babin will earn just $1.35 million with a chance for more in incentives. Pace’s salary is $2.125 million. Both of these moves are likely insurance against failures to find free agent starters. Normally these are positions where if a team drafts a player the player will often only be a part time player as a rookie so having the veteran rotation is beneficial for all sides. So the Jets are simply covering all bases with the move.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.