Jets to Release Center Nick Mangold

The Jets look to be in full rebuilding mode as they will be releasing arguably their best player of the past decade, Nick Manold. Mangold thanked the Jets organization and the fans of the team for all their support through the years which would seem to indicate that he was informed of the move today.  Mangold was fifth on my list of possible cuts along the interior offensive line and his release will save the Jets $9.075 million in cap space. Continue reading Jets to Release Center Nick Mangold »

Podcast #7 of The Zack Moore Show Notes

Today’s podcast breaks down the quarterback market after the first few days of free agency where we saw Brock Osweiler get a four-year, $72 million contract with Houston and the Broncos trade for Mark Sanchez on a one-year, $4.5 million contract with only $1 million guaranteed to replace him for the time being and where the Jets allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to test the market and he found no takers.

We had both ends of the spectrum, teams overspending on unproven quarterbacks like the Texans and teams like the Broncos and Jets sticking to the kind of run-first, defensive formula that the 2000 Ravens and 2013 Seahawks provided the blueprint for from a salary cap perspective.

Continue reading Podcast #7 of The Zack Moore Show Notes »

Sheldon Richardson in Trouble Again…

Jets defenisve end Sheldon Richardson, currently slated to begin a four game suspension for a drug violation in September, was arrested and recently charged for resisting arrest following being clocked driving 143 mph. Brian Costello was all over this one:

Richardson’s off the field decisions are now putting the Jets in a very difficut position regarding their future roster decisions and at this point the team is going to need to look long and hard at a player who promised just a short time ago there would be no more problems from him. Continue reading Sheldon Richardson in Trouble Again… »

Jets Wilkerson to Skip Offseason Workouts?

According to Jason LaCanfora, Jets star Defensive End Muhammad Wilkerson, will not attend the team’s voluntary offseason workout program that begins today. Wilkerson is in the final year of  rookie contract that will pay him $6.969 million but had been hoping for a contract extension that would solidify his status as the defensive leader of the Jets. While these workouts are voluntary and there is no reason for Wilkerson to attend (Wilkerson has no workout bonus in his contract) usually such absences in today’s NFL are to show a sign of unhappiness with a contract unless the player is one who simply never attends these programs.

Wilkerson’s situation illustrates just how fast things change in the NFL. It was rumored last year that he and former GM John Idzik had worked on paramters of a new deal and the sides were somewhat close on an extension. For one reason or another the deal was never completed and Idzik was fired as soon as the season ended. With a new regime in place that take a contract year player like Wilkerson and bring the negotiations right back to step one.

The dynamics of the negotiation may have completely changed at this point.  From the Jets side you have a new GM and coach that may have a very different opinion on Wilkerson than the former staff. Mike Maccagnan, whose background is in scouting, may not have graded Wilkerson as high as the Jets did and may prefer to see him more on a practice field before he is convinced of the high worth. He was also very close to JJ Watt and may hear any comparison to Watt and immediately not consider it valid. He also may not just believe in early extensions or that other positions are more important to target.

From Wilkerson’s side the price has likely gone up in light of recent contracts signed in the NFL and more specifically signed by the Jets. The Jets went on a wild spending spree this offseason that included $16 million a season to Darrelle Revis, $8 million to Antonio Cromartie, $7.5 million to David Harris, and over $6 million to 3rd string corner Buster Skrine. With the market for defensive linemen being completely turned on its head with the Dolphins QB like contract with Ndamukong Suh there is no reason for Wilkerson to hold to any contract based on numbers from 2014. If Wilkerson sees himself as the leader of the defense then there is almost no reason to settle for much less than $16 million a year and with a very large guarantee that mimics those of Revis (55.6%) and Harris (69.8%) in terms of percentage of contract truly guaranteed.

In hindsight, this really was a contract the Jets needed to get done last season regardless of Idzik’s status. All the uncertaintly of free agencies impact on the team would have been avoided and they likely could have gotten him done at a better price for the team.  Why they did not focus on him is still a bit of a mystery to me.

One of the misperceptions about the Jets is that they no longer have the cap room to extend Wilkerson. The Jets have close to $12 million in cap space and that figure includes Wilkerson’s current cap charge. The team could give him significantly more money this year and only knock a few million more off the number. The Jets just need to maintain some flexibility for the contract in 2016, where they will likely be closer to the bottom of the NFL in cap space.

The reason I say that is that the Jets are in a position where they have to make certain they have something available to spend in the event a quareterback does become available. Currently Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Cam Newton could possibly hit free agency next season. It is also possible that Drew Brees will be available next offseason. While it is highly unlikely all would be available, there is a possibility one would be available and for a QB needy team like the Jets they need to be able to make the strongest pitch for the player.  So any additiona extensions will likely need to be designed to maximize that potential.

Revis Comes Back to the Jets

In a scene right out of professional wretling, Darrelle Revis and the Jets have mended fences after a two year split and Revis is “coming home” to wash out the taste of the last two years. According to Manish Mehta its a big deal with $48 million in the first three years and $70 million as the total contract value.

It’s a bit of an odd contract in that the last two years are actually designed to push the value of the contract down from an annual value perspetive, which is often not the case, at least not to this extent. It gives the Jets a sense of a “compromise” on the deal while also being some type of bagaining chip in future negotiations with younger players who would be productive at the back end.  Revis can also claim he took less than his worth to come back to the team he loved. At heart this is a 3 year deal for $16 million, the number Revis always craves. In many ways the deal is the contract that Revis wanted, at east on the front end, in 2010 when the relationship between the team and player began to go bad.

Speaking as a Jets fan I think this was a move the team had to make. This isn’t a football move. This is about recapturing a fanbase that was disgusted with the Jets the last two years, primarily in 2014. It is well known that Revis made an attempt to come back last season to the Jets but the Jets wouldnt really even take the call. When things got so bad at the end of the year owner Woody Johnson basically came out and said if he knew Revis would have played for $12 million last season he would have made the move for him. That is going to open the Jets up to tampering charges since Revis was under contract at the time, but coming off the darkest run since 95-96 he had little option.

Because the Jets spent no money the last two seasons and built up a giant salary cap surplus the move really has no negative repercussions financially. They have so much space that adding one player at $16M per year in cap dollars isn’t a major problem, especially with no viable QB on the roster that will be due an extension. By the time they find a QB Revis will either be off the team or making $11 million per year, a much more manageable number.

Revis played his hand perfectly last year, which was something I talked about when he signed with New England. The cornerback market was depressed and Revis came off a lame season in Tampa Bay that saw limited interest. He wisely took what he expected to be a one year contract (though he almost outsmarted himself by continuing to aim for the $16 million metric) to allow Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman reset the cornerback market. The minute you saw Byron Maxwell and Kareem Jackson getting huge money you knew Revis was going to score big if he got to free agency.

We’ll see where things go for the Jets, but their new front office is off to the kind of start that will keep them popular with fans and media of the team. Thats important to surviving the town and making it look like you are making every effort to get better fast. The team has made moves that are reminiscent of the Mike Tannenbaum run in 2008 and 2009 that completely remade the image of the team from the Herman Edwards/Chad Pennington group to the Rex Ryan/Revis group that nearly made the Super Bowl.  Nobody can predict the future but it’s at least a start in changing the culture of the team.

Jets to Trade for Brandon Marshall

According to a number of different reporters the Jets will be trading a mid round draft pick to acquire Brandon Marshall from the Chicago Bears. My assumption is that the pick will be a 5th rounder since the Jets 4th and 6th round picks will technically be tied up in the Percy Harvin trade from last season through the NFL draft.

Marshall is a very accomplished receiver that had posted seven 1,000 yard seasons in a row before falling to just 721 last season as he struggled with injuries and an ineffective offense. Marshall is 31 years old and should be able to produce for at least two more years at the 1,000 yard level, provided he stays healthy. The Jets will take on $7.7 million in salary for Marshall this year. His 2016 and 2017 salaries of $8.1 and $8.5 million are non-guaranteed, meaning that if the 700 yard season was a sign of things to come he can be released without future salary cap implications. Neither side should push to rework the contract given that Marshall was just signed in 2014.

The Bears had signed Marshall to a contract extension last year that paid him a $7.5 million signing bonus and $7.5 million salary. The team ended up getting just one year for $15 million, essentially as if he was a franchise player, so from that perspective the extension was a disaster for the Bears. The Bears will now carry $5.625 million in dead money for Marshall this season, but that will allow them to create another $3.95 million in cap room. For Chicago this is probably a sign of the lack of faith that the new regime has in the roster that was constructed by former GM Phil Emery and they will be looking to turn over as many veteran pieces as possible.

This move should signal the end of Harvin’s brief tenure with the Jets last season. Harvin was acquired in the middle of the season when then GM John Idzik was getting hammered in the press for not being proactive in his approach to help the team. Harvin was highly overpaid by the Seahawks and had been overvalued for some time around NFL circles. With the Jets already having Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and Jace Amaro under contract, Harvin should be the odd man out.

Harvin was set to earn $10.5 million this season and he would need to bring that number down if he wanted to stay. Reports were that he balked at such a move and this trade would seem to indicate that the Jets realized it was time to move on. Marshall is not only more productive but also cheaper. Last season Harvin did not reach 500 receiving yards. He will likely struggle to earn $6 million a year if he is released.

The trade can not be official until March 10, which likely means the Jets would not make a move with  Harvin until that date. We will not update any of the cap charts to reflect the trade until it is actually official with the NFL.

Jets 2015 Salary Cap Outlook

Estimated 2015 Cap Space: $49.8 million ($140M cap limit)

Roster Overview

Players Under Contract: 52
Pro Bowlers: 1
Unrestricted Free Agents: 14(4 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 6

Salary Cap Breakdown

Jets Salary Cap

Jets Salary Cap

Jets Salary Cap

Free Agents to Re-sign

Defensive tackle Damon Harrison is one of the best bargains in the NFL and is a must keep for the Jets. He will be a restricted free agent this offseason so they will likely start with a second round tender, which will eat up over $2 million in space, and go from there. If they can extend him in the ballpark of $5 million a year they should strongly consider it. Even if just from a PR standpoint an extension for “Snacks” would help the new general manager start off with an aggressive and popular move…Leger Douzable is a nice backup player that can provide some pressure on the interior. He signed for $1 million last year and should get a small raise in 2015….John Conner played well in his return to the Jets and is worth keeping to compete for the position, though it would be dependent on the new offensive system utilizing a fullback.

Free Agents to Let Walk

Linebacker David Harris showed flashes early in his career of being a difference maker, but never really played to the level after signing his extension. The Jets need to get younger and faster, which they will not do by bringing Harris back. If he was to come back it should only be on a one year contract and my guess is he could get a better deal elsewhere…Kyle Wilson has been a disappointment for the Jets and has no place on the team moving forward…Michael Vick showed no desire to play when the Jets gave him an opportunity and is definitely not the answer for the team, even as a stopgap starter.


Contracts to Modify

Percy Harvin has a $10.5 million salary in 2015 and a bloated contract in general. While he is not worth the contract, he has talent and the Jets are devoid of it making him a must keep, unless they are certain they can get one of the big names in free agency. This is probably a great opportunity to bring his contract in line with the market by guaranteeing this year’s salary in return for moderate salaries in the future….Defensive End Muhammad Wilkerson is not coming off the kind of season he had in 2013, which should make for an easier negotiation. If they work quickly to extend him they can roll his $6.969 million salary into his new contract guarantee, giving them more long term protection if he plays poorly. It’s a hard position to gauge but he will likely end up as an $11M-$12M a year player and the Jets gain nothing by waiting to extend him.

Players to Consider Releasing

Running back Chris Johnson has had a few moments where he has looked productive and others where he looks washed up. He’ll be a major distraction if he is back next season and not the starter so they need to just cut ties with him. They will save $3.5 million in cap space by cutting him…Jeff Cumberland was brought back when things were uncertain at the tight end position, but Jace Amaro is the future in New York and Cumberland is inconsistent. He will earn $1.9 million next year, which isn’t much, but he likely doesn’t fit into the team’s future….With Rex Ryan gone one would imagine that Calvin Pace will strongly consider retirement. Pace has a $2.125M salary in 2015 that can be avoided by not picking up his option.

Offseason Plan

The Jets have not had a successful draft period since the 2006/07 seasons. That has depleted their roster of good young talent outside of a few first round picks.  When you look for key positions in place to build around the Jets have few. They have the defensive line in place but need a quarterback, cornerback, outside linebacker(or pass rushing DE if they switch defenses), wide receiver and, soon, left tackle to rebuild the core of the team. They need a new approach to their draft process and a bit of luck to get those positions in place.

The Jets have either avoided big ticket players or approached those players passively under John Idzik, and it’s probable that their next hire will have the exact opposite philosophy since Idzik was arguably the least popular person associated with the Jets among the fan base since Rich Kotite. The Jets are lagging behind the rest of the NFL in spending and have two years to catch up so it is likely they begin now considering they will have over $50 million in cap space and that is with Harvin on the roster.

Unfortunately for the Jets many of the strengths in free agency this year don’t really mesh with their needs.  Much like Oakland and other teams without a great talent base the Jets need to avoid free agents that are going to skew towards the older side of the age spectrum. With the Raiders and Browns both having large cap surpluses expect the Jets to be very aggressive with their offers to make sure they get the players they want even if it means spending a few extra dollars.

I would expect the team to target a pass rushers, 2nd tier corner, running back, backup QB and guard in free agency. Someone like a Jerry Hughes would be a great fit as he is young and productive but it is doubtful the Bills would ever let him walk away. There should be a number of running backs valuable and I would think the Jets would be in play on Mike Iupati at guard, though he may have less shelf life than others. With Idzik out it would not surprise me if the Jets consider finding a right tackle this year to upgrade over Breno Giacomini. Giacomini might be able to slide over to guard for the year if they made such a move.

The Jets will have the 6th pick in the draft and that could present an interesting scenario. They might need to make a trade if they want to draft a QB, but with so many holes on the roster he would have to be an exceptional prospect to make the trade. I’m not sure that prospect exists this year. Negatively if you don’t grab a QB then 2015 becomes some combination of Geno Smith and a Matt Moore type. They could also trade down to try to gain more picks.

I would think if they cant make a move in the draft they want to come away with some combination of receiver, cornerback, defensive end/outside linebacker, inside linebacker, or offensive lineman in those first three rounds of the draft. The Jets really need to hit on those first three picks to begin what looks to be a long process of the getting a strong enought team to get back to the playoffs.

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