New York Jets: Top 5 players most likely to be cut in the offseason
By Justin Fried
The New York Jets will likely experience a ton of roster overhaul this offseason. And these five players could ultimately become cap casualties as a result.
The New York Jets 2019 season hasn’t exactly gone as planned. You could blame injuries, poor coaching, or whatever you’d like, the results just haven’t been there on the field.
In fact, the Jets’ struggles extend beyond their injuries woes and coaching difficulties. Not that those aren’t legitimate issues because they most certainly are. Rather, the Jets simply aren’t a good team for a different, more concrete reason.
They have a poorly construed roster put together as a result of years of mismanagement from the front office. And with new general manager Joe Douglas now calling the shots, you better believe that he’s going to do his best to completely reshape the roster as we know it.
Want your voice heard? Join the The Jet Press team!
This is his team now and he’s going to make that abundantly clear this offseason.
As such, we should expect to see plenty of roster upheaval in the coming months with a number of players cut free from their contracts in an effort to create additional cap space.
Here are five of the most likely Jets players to be cut this offseason.
Next: 5. Josh Bellamy
5. Josh Bellamy, WR
This one might not seem as obvious as some of the others on this list, but it would be a huge surprise if Josh Bellamy were to return to the Jets next season — at least on his current contract.
The signing of Bellamy came as a bit of a surprise at the time given that he had essentially been a special teamer up to that point. And at 30-years-old, the Jets essentially sought out and signed a No. 4 or 5 receiver on the first day of free agency.
A confusing move that was made even worse when Bellamy was placed on the injured reserve after just seven games with the team. In those seven games, Bellamy managed just two catches for 20 yards before resorting back to his role on special teams.
And at his current cap figure, it just doesn’t make much sense to keep him around next season.
Bellamy is set to earn $2.25 million next year but the Jets have an out that could save them $1.34 million if he’s cut before June 1st. Expect the team to take full advantage of that out.
The Jets will still eat over 900,000 in dead cap but the additional money saved could be used to fill more important positions of the roster.
Bellamy’s signing always seemed confusing at the time and now it looks like a total bust after just one season.
Next: 4. Darryl Roberts
4. Darryl Roberts, CB
Another Mike Maccagnan gem of a contract that hasn’t worked out at all has been the three-year, $18 million contract given out to Darryl Roberts this past offseason.
Roberts surprised many last season with a solid stretch of games filling in for injuries to Trumaine Johnson and Morris Claiborne. But the then-28-year-old didn’t exactly have a lengthy track record of success.
Roberts was a career backup to that point with just six career starts going into the season. That didn’t stop Maccagnan from giving him starter money in the offseason as the Jets leaned on him to be the team’s No. 2 cornerback entering the 2019 season.
As expected, that plan didn’t work out for them.
The Marshall product has battled through injuries and been benched for the likes of sixth-round rookie Blessuan Austin and special-teamer Arthur Maulet — only thrust back into the lineup recently out of necessity.
Roberts’ days with the Jets appear to be numbered and fortunately, the team should have an easy out from his contract.
The Jets could cut Roberts this offseason with no penalty and get out of the remaining $13.5 million owed to him over the next two seasons. Maccagnan may have overpaid him, but at least he gave the team an easy way out.
Roberts was a nice surprise for half a season, but that stretch of solid games proved to be more of a flash in the pan than anything sustainable.
Next: 3. Brian Winters
3. Brian Winters, OG
The Jets offensive line has been one of the biggest disappointments of the 2019 season. After a number of patchwork acquisitions in the offseason, there was reasonable optimism regarding the offensive line entering the year.
But that optimism disappeared quickly when it was clear that the line was in over their heads after a disastrous start to the season. And right guard Brian Winters was among those who struggled the most.
The veteran guard battled through injury for yet another season and while his toughness is always appreciated, his play once again suffered as a result. The Jets finally decided to bite the bullet and place him on the injured reserve nine games into the season.
And in his place, veteran Tom Compton has arguably played just as well if not better. That isn’t to say that Compton is the answer at the position, just that Winters clearly isn’t either.
The Jets will be looking to remake pretty much their entire offensive line in the offseason and while cutting Winters would be creating a hole just to fill it, it wouldn’t be wise to go into next season with him as a starter.
Winters will carry a cap hit of $7.5 million into next season but the Jets can cut him with absolutely no penalty freeing up an additional $7.5 million in cap space. And it might just be in the team’s best interest to do so.
Winters has served the Jets well over the past seven years, but it’s likely time to move on and find a new starter at the position.
Next: 2. Avery Williamson
2. Avery Williamson, LB
Out of all the players on this list, this one absolutely seems the cruelest.
Avery Williamson might find himself looking for a new team this offseason, not as a result of his play, but simply because of the numbers game.
By all accounts, Williamson has been a successful signing for the Jets. The former Tenessee Titans linebacker played very well in his first season with the Jets and hopes were high that he and the newly-signed C.J. Mosley would combine for one of the best linebacker duos in the league this season.
Unfortunately, Williamson tore his ACL in the preseason while Mosley has been absent for all but two games in 2019.
Still, the Jets have managed to get capable production from the likes of Neville Hewitt, Blake Cashman, and James Burgess even with their starters sidelined. Hewitt and Cashman, in particular, have shown promise and could be in-line for an increased role next season.
And as a result, Williamson could be the odd man out.
Cashman is a player the Jets would love to groom into a starter at the position and Hewitt has proven to be a reliable run-stopper patrolling the middle of the defense. Pair that duo with a healthy Mosley and the Jets truthfully don’t need Williamson.
The Jets have a possible out in his contract this offseason that would save them $6.5 million in cap space while only incurring a $2 million penalty. And given how the defense has held up with backups at inside linebacker, it’s hard to argue that Williamson will be worth his cap figure.
It’s a shame, but unfortunately, that’s just the reality of the business sometimes. And Williamson might become a true cap casualty this offseason.
Next: 1. Trumaine Johnson
1. Trumaine Johnson, CB
On the other end of the spectrum, Trumaine Johnson is a player whose performance has nowhere near lived up to the salary he’s receiving. And even though the Jets will take a pretty hefty hit from releasing him, it seems all but guaranteed that he’s played his last game with Gang Green.
The Jets made Johnson one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL when he agreed to a five-year, $72.5 million contract prior to the 2018 season. It seemed like an overpay at the time, but few could have predicted just how awful the deal would become.
More from The Jet Press
- NY Jets: Jonnu Smith would be a smart free-agent target
- NY Jets: 3 non-quarterback trade targets on offense
- NY Jets expected to be ‘much more aggressive’ in free agency this year
- NY Jets: Patriots will not use the franchise tag on Joe Thuney
- NY Jets officially place the franchise tag on safety Marcus Maye
It quickly became apparent that Johnson wasn’t the player the Jets paid him to be. Not only was he getting vastly overpaid, but he was a true liability for the team in every sense of the word.
The Jets entered the 2019 season with arguably the worst cornerback group in the NFL. And in that group, Johnson was far and away the team’s worst option.
The 29-year-old began the year as a starter simply be default but was soon benched for Nate Hairston who was later benched for the likes of Blessaun Austin and Arthur Maulet further establishing that Johnson was the worst cornerback on the team.
Again let’s reiterate. Trumaine Johnson was the worst cornerback on the team with the worst cornerbacks in the NFL. It doesn’t get much worse than that.
The Jets will likely cut Johnson in the offseason and even though he will carry $12 million in dead cap with him, the $3 million in savings that they will incur will be more than enough of a reason to swiftly move on.
The Trumaine Johnson signing will live on in infamy as one of the worst free-agent signings in NFL history, but at least the Jets can rid themselves of this grave mistake in the offseason.