NY Jets: Top 5 more than likely salary cap casualties
Dec 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland (85) reaches for a pass against the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won, 30-8. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets have more players that will undoubtedly be cut due to their hefty salary cap numbers.
Last offseason, the Jets were in “salary cap heaven,” and they were able to get everything they needed. They were able to sign the players that would be immediate upgrades. Unfortunately, this offseason though, they are in “salary cap purgatory.”
According to Spotrac, assuming a $154M cap, the Jets have $20,656,364 in cap space this offseason after they recently cut cornerback Antonio Cromartie. They will have several options now but more cuts are coming. They can renegotiate contracts or trade a player. Most of the time a team will simply cut a player to save money.
Even if a player is cut, the entire contract isn’t saved. There’s a term called dead money. For example, if the Jets were to cut Darrelle Revis, according to the website Over the Cap, his base salary is $17M. However, his post-June 1 dead money number is his entire contract. So, the Jets wouldn’t save any money by cutting him, but trading him would save the Jets $15M.
There are going to be cap casualties on this team as a result of their cap situation. Here are the players that are most likely to no longer Jets come the end of the offseason.
Next: 5. Lackluster performing returner
Nov 22, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (11) returns a kick during the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
5. Jeremy Kerley
The Jets had the worst special teams unit in the league and Kerley was the face of the problems the unit had in 2015. The team had 22 fair catches with 8.9 yards per return and zero touchdowns; and Kerley also averaged 8.9 yards per return and 19 of the 22 fair catches.
The Jets probably need to get to around $30M to get who they need in free agency and sign their draft picks, and Kerley’s cap number is $3.1M. So, they will have to make a lot more cuts and moves.
The cap savings would give the Jets a little more breathing room.
Next: 4. Aging linebacker
Dec 19, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Jets inside linebacker David Harris (52) tackles Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden (20) during the game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
4. David Harris
For his entire career, Harris has been the linchpin of the Jets’ defense and the engine that made it go. He performed well this season, but this team is looking to get younger.
It’s not that he’s not performing well and he has shown to be an ironman, because he has started in all the games in each of his seven seasons. The big problem is the $7.5M pricetag.
The best part of the contract is, that by cutting Harris, his entire contract would be wiped off the books.
The $7.5M savings is crucial to the Jets this offseason, and given the fact that Harris is 32, and his cap number is so high, they may be forced to cut him. It is unfortunate, because Harris isn’t underperforming, he will just be a victim of the system.
Next: 3. Underperformance up front
Sep 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets offensive lineman James Carpenter (77) warms up before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
3. James Carpenter
One of the most important moves the Jets made last offseason was to sign Carpenter. They needed to bolster their offensive line and he was one of the best lineman available at the time.
Carpenter also was a big time lineman in Seattle, giving the holes to Marshawn Lynch. He proved not to be as much help as they thought he would be.
Maybe it was the talent in the running game, or maybe it was him. The cap number for him is $5.575M in 2016.
After the first two cuts I mentioned and this one, that brings the total cap savings to $11.75M.
Next: 2. Make room at tight end
Nov 8, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland (85) runs the opening kickoff against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
2. Jeff Cumberland
Like Kerley, Cumberland was the face of the poor tight end group performance in 2015, because he had five catches on 14 targets for 77 yards and zero touchdowns. It was his worst statistical season since his second year, and that was also the last time he didn’t visit the end zone for an entire season.
According to the website Sporting Charts, Cumberland ranked 72 in the NFL in snaps among the 121 tight ends that made the list. According to the aforementioned chart, he played in 23.2% of the Jets’ snaps this season.
He would have to play in many more snaps to make his cap number worth it. They could use the $1.9M.
His cap number is also highest among all the Jets tight ends.
He not only under-performed, but he also wasn’t used. The savings would bring the Jets cap space to $22.7M, which is a much more workable number.
Next: 1. Overpaid cornerback
Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie (31) pushes Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) out of bounds In the 2nd half at MetLife Stadium.The Jets defeated the Dolphins 38-20. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
1. Antonio Cromartie
At the time of this writing, Cromartie wasn’t released yet but considering he under-performed this season, it was mostly due to with playing through nagging injuries. He’s 32 this season and the pain and injuries could’ve been a sign of aging.
The Jets thought he could give them what he gave them in his first stint, and they gave him a four-year, $32M contract last offseason. His contract has no dead money in any of the remaining years, which means they can cut him in any year for a complete cap savings.
According to Sporting Charts again, Cromartie played in 85.6% of the Jets’ defensive snaps, despite the injuries, and he had his first zero interception season since his rookie year. His production doesn’t warrant the pay he’s going to get in 2016 which is why he was the first player cut by the Jets.
More jets: NY Jets 2015 Spotlight: Buster Skrine
The Jets got the ultimate cap relief they could get by releasing Cromartie. With the other cuts I suggested, it would ultimately give them a total of $30.7M in cap space which would make them be able to land a key free agent or two this offseason.