The New York Jets disappointing season comes to an end on Sunday which means it is time to start looking at moves that could help the team improve in the offseason. One of the first steps in the rebuilding process is to review the team’s salary cap situation as it dictates the amount of flexibility a team has in terms of personnel decisions.
Recently Jason Fitzgerald from NYJETSCAP.com took the time to break down the New York Jets salary cap as well as answer several contractual questions. For those of you that are not familiar with NYJETSCAP.com it is arguably one of the most informative Jets related sites on the internet as it provides in depth information on player contracts and the salary cap.
Tyson Rauch: Jason, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. According to the information that you have gathered what is the Jets salary cap number as the team heads into the new league year?
Jason Fitzgerald: Right now the Jets should have around $142 million committed to the cap in 2013. The cap is expected to be around $121 million, so clearly the Jets need to make some moves to get under the cap. They will finish this season with around $4 million in cap room to carry over which will help ease the pain a bit.
TR: As the Jets enter rebuild mode there is already speculation that the team will be cutting players like Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Eric Smith, Sione Pouha, and Jason Smith in order to create cap space. Would these moves provide the Jets with significant financial relief in terms of the cap?
JF: Absolutely and I think most of those names are a given to be released. Some could be brought back on lower cost deals, but all should be let go to create room. Moving all of those players would drop the Jets cap number by $34.5 million dollars, immediately putting them under the cap as we make the turn into free agency. The two easiest decisions are Jason Smith and Bart Scott, who create $12 million and $7.15 million in room respectively, since neither are full time players and both are on high salaries. Pace saves the team $8.56 million, but is still a full game player so he might be cut and brought back on a lower salary deal.
TR: What would be the cap hit if the Jets decided to part ways with Santonio Holmes?
JF: Holmes is an interesting decision because of all the guarantees the Jets have in his deal. If the Jets could trade him his dead cap would only be $3.75 million. If they were to cut him outright it balloons to $11.25 million due to $7.5 million dollars of fully guaranteed base salary. If he is too injured to workout that number might rise by another $500,000. However that $11.25 million dead cap actually represents a cap savings of $1.25 million. The Jets will also receive a credit when he is picked up by another team for the salary they pay him in 2013, which will probably make release a real possibility.
TR: If the Jets are going to enter a true rebuild mode I can make an argument that the team should trade Antonio Cromartie who was recently named to the Pro-Bowl. What would be the financial implications of trading Cromartie?
JF: I agree that the Jets should look into the market for Cromartie. It creates a big cap savings of $8.25 million and I think this year helped prove that, if you surround a top corner with decent talent in the defensive backfield, investing $20 million in cap room on two cornerbacks is a waste of cap dollars.
TR: Sticking with the rebuild tune what would be the cap hit if the Jets decided to trade Darrelle Revis?
JF: That is a tougher pill to swallow than trading Cromartie. The dead money on a Revis trade is $12 million, which is actually $3 million higher than his current $9 million dollar charge. For the Jets to make that move not only will a team need to give them a high draft pick but the Jets would also have to be certain that he will not re-sign at a reasonable price with the Jets.
TR: It is beyond obvious that the Jets/Tebow marriage will be over after one year. What is the financial difference if Tebow is released as opposed to traded?
JF: In order to complete the trade with the Broncos last season the Jets had to pay back a portion of the salary advance that the Broncos had paid Tebow in 2010. The Jets split those payments across two years and still have slightly more than $1 million to pay back to Denver. If they release Tebow the Jets will have to make those payments, which will count against the cap in 2013. If they trade him the team that acquires him will be responsible for the money and the Jets will carry no dead money for Tebow.
TR: What would a cap conversation be without mentioning quarterback Mark Sanchez and his guaranteed $8.25 million next year? My belief is that the Jets must part ways with Sanchez as it would be best for both parties. Based on Mark’s contract what are the Jets options?
JF: The Jets have a number of options with Sanchez, none of which are going to create much cap room:
1. Release Sanchez outright- This is difficult. Not only do the Jets have to cut him a check for $8.25 million but also deal with a dead money hit of $17.153 million.
2. Designate him a June 1 cut- They would have to cut him that $8.25 million check but the cap hits would then be $12.353 in 2013 with $4.8 million deferred until 2014.
3. Find a trade partner- This is the only scenario where they would get cap relief. If they found a team willing to pay the full $8.25 million then the dead money for Sanchez is only $8.9 million. More likely to facilitate a trade the Jets will need to pay some of the guarantee before the trade occurs. I think a team would be willing to pay him around $3 million a season. If they do that they can probably walk away with a $14 million dollar hit in 2013 and be rid of him from the books in 2014.
None of these moves are going to help the Jets next year and it may be a situation where they are forced to keep him on the team and rework his deal to defer some cap charges to 2014.
TR: As we look to the future safety LaRon Landry is coming off of a solid season where he was named to the Pro-Bowl. What do you see being Landry’s value as he heads to free agency?
JF: I think the Pro Bowl nod really helps Landry get more people interested in him. Landry has alot going for him in that he stayed healthy for the full year, is a former high draft pick, and was voted to the Pro Bowl. That being said he’ll be 29 next year, has an injury history, and is probably one hit away from a league suspension. My guess is that he will get somewhere around $6.7 million a year with around $10 million guaranteed. I do not think he is worth that much money, but someone will pay him around that number, maybe even the Jets.
TR: Another potential free agent is tight end Dustin Keller who battled injuries throughout this season. What type of value do you think Keller will have on the open market?
JF: You never want to have an injury riddled season before you hit free agency and that is what happened with Keller. I think that may knock the price down, at least on the base value of the contract. Going into the year I was assuming somewhere between $6.8 and $6.9 million a year over 5 years, but it will probably be a bit lower because of that injury. I’m not sure what the Jets think about him but they might consider the franchise or transition tag and hold him for 1 more season. The cost of the franchise tag is around $5.9 million and the transition tag is about $5.1 million. Coming off injury it is doubtful that Keller would put up much resistance to the tag.
TR: Jason, once again thank you for your time and insight. Please check out Jason’s website NYJETSCAP.com.