While nothing was surprising today for those who follow this site I got the feeling that most of the fans were finally happy to see the Jets starting to take action with the teams roster. Here is a cut by cut rundown for the Jets and the impact on the cap:
Calvin Pace– Of all the cuts this is probably the most impactful for the Jets. Though Pace was a below average pass rusher and overpaid for his role he was still a starting player that saw action on most of the teams defensive snaps. This move officially leaves the Jets without a starting outside linebacker on the team. 34 Outside Linebackers are expensive pieces to find in free agency but I am still of the belief that the Jets will transition almost exclusively to a 43 front which makes replacing Pace much easier. Cutting Pace saved the Jets $8.56 million in cap space as well as cash payroll.
Bart Scott– Scott will probably be best known for his pro-wrestling esque “Cant Wait” speech following the thrilling victory the Jets had against the Patriots in the 2010 playoffs. That’s not entirely fair as Scott had two good seasons with the team even if he did not fill up the stat sheet, but his abrasive personality and behavior at times towards the media made him an unpopular player these last two years. Scott got old quickly and all the years of deep playoff runs I think caught up with his body in 2011. He was more or less a 50% down player this year and I think most felt that even that was too much action for him as better teams targeted him in the passing game as soon as he came onto the field. Cutting Scott saves the team $7.15 million.
Eric Smith– A move made one year too late in my opinion. Smith is a valuable special teams player and spot starter but at a $3 million dollar salary there was no way to bring him back. There was a noticeable difference in overall team play when he was replaced this season.
Jason Smith– Smith was the one contract that Jets had that really made their salary cap a bigger story than it ever should have been. A colossal bust with the Rams, Smith took a paycut in 2012 and in return was given a $12 million dollar salary in 2013 that would ensure his release to free agency. That was $12 million no team was ever going to pay and he carried a $0 dead money charge for the Jets so it was essentially money that was just on the books even though it was never going to be seen.
Josh Baker– Baker was injured last season and that probably made the move happen now instead of after workouts. Baker was scheduled to earn $555,000.
Overall– We have talked about these moves for a long time and they come as no surprise. It is why the Jets cap situation was always overblown and screamed “sour grapes” when stories were leaked that GMs did not want the job because of the cap. While the cap isn’t in great shape its not this nightmarish wreck that everyone painted it out to be. Cap hell is when you are forced to cut players who you don’t want to cut. Is anyone going to miss these players? No and its why stating that the Jets have an awful roster and are in cap hell just didn’t fit. The total dead money absorbed in these moves was $4,513,335, which is less than $1 million a player. For the Jets to have been in true cap hell they would have had to take over $10 million in cap charges for the dead weight. This was just housekeeping.
All in all the Jets slashed $31,265,000 from their payroll today. Now you have to replace each one of those players with a lower cost player so the net cap effect of the moves is the creation of $29,240,000 in cap space. My estimates now have the Jets pegged at $118,213,761 in top 51 cap commitments and a cash payroll of $90,754,199. Based on a salary cap of $122 million, as rumored by Pro Football Talk, that leaves the Jets with $7,186,239 million in cap room after taking into account their $3.4 million dollar cap carryover from 2012.
None of the moves made today preclude the Jets from bringing any of these players back at a later date. Since each player was either in the final proration year of his contract or had no prorated money in his deal avoiding the release has no effect on the cap charges for the players. Releasing the players now gives them the opportunity to go out and overtly interview with teams both before and during the meeting in Indianapolis. If the market is not there they will then have an opportunity to go back to New York and see if there is interest. Most likely the Jets would consider bringing back any of the players on minimum salary deals, which Pace, Scott, and Smith now can be qualified as.
I would think the Jets harder job begins now. Unlike these players DT Sione Pouha has two years remaining in his contract making it, from a cap perspective, more important to keep him on the roster as long as possible while trying to reach a reasonable pay decrease for the year. I don’t think he can come back with $5 million in cash coming his way in 2013. You have to work to bring down the cap charges of Santonio Holmes who is in a situation where, if he wants to stay with the Jets and boast a top 5 type contract, he will need to take a paycut. If he refuses the Jets need to consider taking a big cap hit but cap savings by releasing him. Next will be determining if Mark Sanchez is better off carrying a lower cap cost in the present and carrying some money into the future. And of course you have Darrelle Revis who could be traded. Should be a fun few days….
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.