There has been a lot of information being fired off the last two or three days. We have great and odd additions of Dee Milliner (great), and Sheldon Richardson (good but odd). We have the obvious headline grabbing news of Geno Smith as the 2nd round free faller that could have been the #1 pick had the draft been held March 25th rather than April 25th. Last but not least, a trade has been made for what I would assume would be a starting running back in Chris Ivory for the Jets 4th round pick.
Lost in the excitement however, is this small piece of seemingly insignificant information. Just a day or two ago, the Jets restructured D’brickashaw Ferguson’s contract for the upcoming 2013 season. Before restructuring the Jets were reportedly already around 12.4 million under the salary cap. By renegotiating, and slashing his salary to a prorated bonus, they were able to add another 5.1 million in cap space. By my estimate, that gives the Jets who started 20 million over the cap, at least 17 million in cap space currently. I don’t know how accurate this number is, as it’s just the accumulation of different sources, but if it’s true more big news should be on the horizon.
Just to throw out ideas, I thought about what a team could do with 17 million in cap space. A couple different ideas came to mind.
1. They could add some free agents at skill positions (WR) like Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston, or Early Doucet.
2. Could address the open starting tight end position with Kevin Boss, Dallas Clark, or Leonard Pope.
3. They could cut Mark Sanchez (though I hope not) and put a large portion of his salary into this years cap space if possible, and thereby take most of it off the books, while opening the QB spot for David Gerrard, Greg McElroy, and Geno Smith.
I think option 3 might be in the works. Consider this premise. If there truly is an open competition for quarterback and Sanchez is not the best of the group, then what? Even if he is second best on the team to David Gerrard, or to Geno Smith, he might not make it to the 2013 regular season roster. Why have a clipboard holder making over 8 million a season?
I’m not a cap expert, but if Sanchez were to be cut the Jets would be responsible for his guaranteed money. From different sources, that would be about 12 million dollars this season, still giving New York about 7 million in breathing room. Next season he is guaranteed only 2 or 3 million, and some in guaranteed money only if he is on the roster during the start of the actual 2014 season. All in all, it looks like it could cost the Jets around 12 million to release Sanchez, and let him find a better environment. While this money is a lot, it is far from undo-able.
Again, this is just a plausible scenario for creating more cap room on a team that already has a little bit of cap room. Drafted players are not included in the cap space, because a draft pool of money is pre-allotted to my knowledge. My thinking is that Idzik is trying to cover his bases should Sanchez rise or fail. If Sanchez proves to be the best in training camp, then he provides the team with the best chance of winning now. He continues to start, and Geno Smith gets a year or two to see what he’s got. Idzik wins, and there is a better QB standing with the clipboard in Smith than Tim Tebow.
However, if Sanchez is anything less than the best quarterback on the team, the Jets may turn the team over to whoever shows the most in an open competition. This could mean the cutting ties of Sanchez, Tebow, or both, and using the cap room cushion to absorb the blow all in this 2013 season. Idzik still wins, because he quietly slid in enough cap room to remove the loser of the QB derby, so there is no distraction, and the salary cap is not affected in 2014. So while the draft is going on just keep in the back of your mind that moves are still not done being made behind the scenes. For the record, I still support Sanchez, but I think Idzik has set the stage already for whoever wins the starting job by August.