The Jets have released veteran wide receiver Quincy Enunwa less than two years after signing him to a four year, $36 million contract extension. The contract will likely go down as one of the worst contract decisions in Jets history.
Enunwa’s career peaked with the Jets in 2016 when he had a breakout year in which he caught 58 passes for 857 yards, but his career was derailed from that point forward by injury. Enunwa suffered a neck injury the following summer and missed all of the 2017 season. Enunwa’s numbers dropped significantly when he returned in 2018 with 38 receptions for 449 yards. Despite being injured again the Jets signed him to the contract extension a day before placing him on IR to end his 2018 season.
It was a strange contract which was seemingly a last ditch effort by former GM Mike Maccagnan to make a mark on the organization at a time when it was rumored his job was in jeopardy. Despite the injury history the prior two years the Jets guaranteed Enunwa $20.25 million of the $36 million total contract. It was doubtful in free agency Enunwa would have received a number anywhere near that total.
Enunwa wound up appearing in just one game after signing the contract, unfortunately suffering another neck injury on his first reception of the year. He was placed on the PUP list this offseason and it was unlikely he would be able to play again.
Enunwa’s $6 million salary in 2020 was fully guaranteed and he should be eligible to also collect on his $4.078 million injury guarantee for 2021. The Jets did fine Enunwa last year for missing treatment but I would doubt that this would void the guarantee. As long as the guarantees stand the Jets ultimately should wind up paying him the full $20.25 million for 1 catch for -4 yards.
Assuming the guarantee stands Enunwa’s dead money will be $11.879 million in 2020, a loss of $4.078 million in cap room. This is rare to see these kind of releases so I have a feeling that this is simply the Jets using newfound cap space from opt outs to get it off the books now rather than waiting until next year and also prevents Enunwa from being able to opt out to delay the timeline for the team. Enunwa will also carry a $3.6 million dead money charge in 2021.
The Jets look to be all in on creating cap space for next year now that they have traded Jamal Adams and watched CJ Mosley opt out of the season and this should do just that. They are up to $30M in cap space this year and will now be among the league leaders in projected cap space for 2021.
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.