New York Jets desperately need to free up more cap space
The New York Jets are completely out of cap space, but still have serious needs to be addressed this offseason.
Thus far, the Jets have had a moderately successful offseason. Although the team lost some key players (ie. running back Chris Ivory, defensive tackle Damon Harrison), Jets’ general manager Mike Maccagnan was able to find affordable replacements in free agency (running back Matt Forte, defensive tackle Steve McLendon, defensive end Jarvis Jenkins). Additionally, the team was able to retain the services of Bilal Powell (new contract) and Muhammad Wilkerson (franchise tag).
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Maccagnan’s work is far from done however. As it sits right now, the Jets have no viable starting quarterback options for the 2016 season. The organization has been negotiating with incumbent starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the two sides are said to be far apart on a new contract. The Jets also brought in Robert Griffin III for a visit, although its questionable if the team is seriously interested in signing him.
Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) runs with the ball In the first half at MetLife Stadium.The Jets defeated the Dolphins 38-20. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
If they want to contend in 2016, the Jets will have to eventually sign, trade for or draft a quarterback. Geno Smith has shown time and time again that he cannot be a starting quarterback in this league, and Bryce Petty has yet to throw a pass in a regular season game.
Adding to the Jets’ current quarterback woes is their salary cap situation. Considering the recent signings of McLendon and Jenkins, the Jets are currently estimated to be slightly over the adjusted salary cap for 2016. Long story short, any money the Jets add on the books from this point forward will have to be deducted from a current contract.
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Looking ahead, what are the team’s best options for freeing up more cap space? Courtesy of Spotrac, lets examine a few of the most expensive Jets players in 2016.
There are six players currently scheduled to make at least five percent of the team’s payroll in 2016: Darrelle Revis ($17 million), Wilkerson ($15.7 million), D’Brickashaw Ferguson ($14.1 million), Brandon Marshall ($9.5 million), Nick Mangold ($8.6 million) and Eric Decker ($8 million).
Due to either their quality of play and/or contract situations, its generally believed that Revis, Marshall, Mangold and Decker will remain with the Jets on their current contracts.
Therefore, in order to free up essential cap space in 2016, Maccagnan is almost forced to address the Ferguson and/ or Wilkerson contracts.
Let’s start with Ferguson. Although the left tackle has been a steady presence (he’s never missed a start), his play is gradually declining. If any offensive lineman in the league is worth $14 million per year, it certainly isn’t Ferguson. The Jets should seriously consider trying to restructure his contract or cut him if necessary.
The Wilkerson situation is a bit more complicated. Wilkerson is young (26) and in his prime (career high 12 sacks last season). Ideally, the Jets would be able to sign him to long-term contract, negating the exorbitant franchise tag they placed on him.
However, the team has been trying unsuccessfully to resign Wilkerson for years. At this point, the two sides may be better off permanently separating. Although it would be brutal for Jets fans to see another young star defensive player be traded away, the Jets may be left with no better options.
Trading away Chandler Jones got the New England Patriots a second round draft pick and Jonathan Cooper. If the Jets receive a similar offer for Wilkerson, they should pounce on it.
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What are your thoughts, Jets Nation? Does the team need to add another quarterback or any other players? If so, how should the Jets free up the necessary cap space? Please leave your comments below so we can get the conversation going!