NY Jets: 3 possible cap casualties for the 2021 offseason

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NY Jets
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The NY Jets could save money and cut these three players in the offseason.

The NY Jets are going to experience plenty of roster overhaul this offseason. With just 38 players under contract for next season, the organization will be forced to make some changes.

And of those 38, expect at least a few to be offseason departures as well.

The Jets already enter the 2021 offseason with nearly $100 million in cap space — a fortune given the expected shrinkage of the salary cap.

But they will have the ability to clear even more cap space by cutting a few players. Some of these players simply haven’t lived up to expectations while others, the team may be better off cutting ties with simply to save money.

Guaranteed salary is king in today’s NFL. Without it, players — even good players — are expendable.

Just look at a guy like Jamison Crowder, for example. Crowder is arguably a top-five slot receiver in the NFL, but there’s a chance he’s cut this offseason simply because his $11.5 million salary comes with just a $1 million dead cap charge.

It’s not likely, but it is a possibility.

But which three players are the most likely to be cap casualties this offseason?

Next: 3. George Fant

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3. George Fant, RT, NY Jets

When the Jets signed George Fant to a three-year, $27.3 million contract this past offseason, many saw it as a bit of an overpay. And while paying Fant over $9 million per season is admittedly a lot of money, the structure of the deal is what mattered the most.

Fant has just $3 million in guaranteed money after the first year of the contract and could feasibly be cut this offseason with very little in dead cap.

If the Jets decide to move on from Fant, they’ll only be on the books for $2 million while saving potentially up to $8 million. It’s certainly a move they might consider.

Fant hasn’t been particularly bad this season as his 65.2 Pro Football Focus grade is around league average, if not slightly below average. He’s surrendered two sacks and has been tagged for one penalty, but he’s mostly been a reliable starter.

The Jets might not feel that they could do better on the open market. That said, it’s hard to argue that his near $10 million cap hit next season — perhaps the third-highest on the roster when all is set and done — isn’t a significant overpay.

It’s far from a given that Fant is cut, but moving on and saving money makes sense. At the very least, don’t rule out some sort of restructuring that allows the Jets to save some cap space.

Next: 2. Alex Lewis

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2. Alex Lewis, LG, NY Jets

Another offensive lineman who could be cut this offseason is left guard Alex Lewis. After impressing enough in 2019, the Jets decided to bring Lewis back on a three-year, $18.6 million contract in the offseason.

But much like Fant’s deal, calling it a “three-year contract” is a bit misleading.

The Jets feasibly have an out after this season that would cost them just $1.67 million in dead cap. And given that his cap hit is due to jump to over $7 million in 2021, the team would certainly save quite a bit of money by cutting him.

Lewis has been hit or miss this season, but mostly the latter. Aside from center Connor McGovern — who’s locked into his contract next year — Lewis has been arguably the team’s worst offensive lineman.

And his 64.2 PFF grade, second-worst on the Jets’ line only to McGovern, is evidence of that.

He hasn’t been awful, but his play has clearly declined in recent weeks and he’s nothing more than a below-average, replacement-level player.

It wouldn’t make sense to pay him over $7 million in 2021, especially when the Jets could upgrade in the offseason or even look to give rookie Cameron Clark a chance to start.

Lewis is a prime cut candidate this offseason.

Next: 1. Henry Anderson

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NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

1. Henry Anderson, DE, NY Jets

This one is essentially inevitable. Henry Anderson is pretty much a guarantee to be cut this offseason once the Jets are given a realistic opportunity to get his money off the books.

After a surprisingly efficient 2018 season, then-general-manager Mike Maccagnan decided it would be wise to re-sign Anderson to a three-year, $25.2 million contract the following offseason.

But the most important — and egregious — part of the deal was the whopping $17 million in guaranteed money that kept him locked into his contract through 2020.

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This was despite Anderson’s extensive injury history and the fact that he was nothing more than a rotational player at best before breaking out in 2018. Needless to say, he hasn’t come close to matching his production from that season.

Anderson is set to make over $9.5 million in 2021 which will be the third-highest of any returning player on the roster. For a player who’s played fewer than 40 percent of defensive snaps in more than half of his games this season, that simply can’t be the case.

His play hasn’t even warranted a restructuring, not with players such as Jabari Zuniga, Kyle Phillips, and others who have a much bigger upside and deserve playing time.

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It might as well be said right now. Henry Anderson will not be back with the Jets in 2021 and the team will save $8.2 million in cap space as a result.