The NY Jets have a lot of decisions to make this offseason, namely regarding how to spend their abundant resources.
What might be just as important as their free agency decisions, however, are their cuts. The Jets have already cut Henry Anderson, which was very much a wise and expected move.
Cutting Anderson saved the Jets quite a bit of cap space, and he already made little to no impact on the field, to begin with. If Anderson had made a solid impact on the field, though, would that have been enough to warrant his price tag?
That is a question that Jets general manager Joe Douglas has to answer for a key player on the roster — Jamison Crowder.
Jamison Crowder’s impact with the NY Jets
While Crowder has been unspectacular on the Jets, dependability and consistency have never been lacking.
In his 28 games with the Jets, Crowder has never played a game without recording a catch. He has only missed four games over the past two seasons and 12 games over his entire six-year career.
In terms of production, he has been rock-solid in the slot for the Jets. Crowder ranked seventh in receptions (91) and eighth in yards (1,094) on plays from the slot position over the past two seasons, per ESPN Stats & Information.
Notably, these numbers are not adjusted for Crowder’s missed games. His rankings would likely be even higher if not for those few inactive Sundays.
In terms of big-play ability, Crowder does not disappoint. He had a fantastic sideline tip-toe touchdown against New England this past season.
More notably, though, Crowder showed up on countless highlight shows after his perfectly thrown 43-yard touchdown pass to Braxton Berrios against Cleveland.
With the second pick in the draft, Gang Green is likely to have a rookie starting quarterback, and a consistent and reliable pass-catcher with highlight-reel ability is crucial for rookie QB-led offenses.
So, unlike Henry Anderson, Crowder definitely has had an impact on the field. But does his impact warrant his 2021 price tag?
Next: Analyzing Crowder's remaining contract
Jamison Crowder’s remaining contract with the NY Jets
One of the last moves made by former Jets GM Mike Maccagnan was signing Crowder to a three-year contract worth $28.5 million back in March of 2019.
After playing two seasons for the Jets, Crowder is on the last year of his contract and is set to earn $11.4 million in 2021.
However, if Joe Douglas were to cut Crowder at any point, the Jets would save $10.4 million in cap space with the other $1 million becoming dead money, according to OverTheCap.com.
A 2021 cap hit of $11.4 million would make Crowder the 20th highest-paid wide receiver for this upcoming year.
The former Duke standout would be making around as much money as players like Brandin Cooks and former teammate Robby Anderson, both of whom are set to make slightly more than Crowder.
Crowder logged 699 receiving yards in 12 games this season (a 932-yard pace). Cooks, however, racked up 1,150 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns in 2020 while Anderson put up just under 1,100 receiving yards.
Both players clearly outperformed Crowder and are outside receivers, which are generally more valuable than receivers who play in the slot like Crowder.
Looking at these two players around Crowder’s cap hit, it is relatively safe to conclude that Crowder is being overpaid. However, a deeper look would show that his price tag is not that much higher than warranted.
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The players who are making just under what Crowder is making in 2021 are Randall Cobb ($10.5 million cap hit), Emmanuel Sanders ($10 million), Tyler Boyd ($9.8 million), John Brown ($9.5 million), and Sterling Shepard ($9 million).
Two of those players, Sanders and Brown, have already been released.
Crowder had more 2020 receiving yards per game than all of those players, and his 2020 Pro Football Focus grade of 75.3 was higher than that of Cobb, Sanders, and Brown.
With these stats and cap hits in mind, I would argue that Crowder’s cap hit should be around $9.5 to $10 million in order to be more in range with his level of talent.
At most, Crowder is making about $2 million more than he is probably worth. Is that overpay enough to warrant cutting him?
The answer to that question is a resounding no, as proven this season by a former Jet.
Next: The Jets can't make the same mistake
NY Jets, Jamison Crowder Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets chose wrong in a similar situation last offseason
All of this talk about letting a Jets veteran receiver walk in order to save a few million dollars might be giving you some déjà vu.
That’s because the Jets were in a very similar situation last season with Robby Anderson.
At the time, Anderson was a veteran Jet who was a known talent but unspectacular. Douglas chose the slightly cheaper option in Breshad Perriman, and Anderson went to Carolina instead.
Perriman recorded 42.1 yards per game in 2020 while Anderson put up almost 70 per game. Clearly, Douglas made a mistake.
Overall, Perriman did not perform well, but he should not have really been expected to perform well. Like many of Douglas’ signings last year, he had a very unproven track record, hence the small contract that the Jets signed him to.
Opting for Perriman over Anderson is consistent with Douglas’ GM style — sign the cheap and unproven option rather than the higher-priced known talent.
Last summer, Douglas’ implementation of this strategy made sense under the narrative that the 2020 season was a reset year meant to evaluate talent and cut dead weight.
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Crowder, however, is not dead weight. He is a proven veteran who’s earned the right to finish out his contract.
Already lacking in talent, the Jets are not a team that should be cutting their good players to save cap space.
Trading Crowder for draft capital is one thing. But to cut and replace Crowder for a net profit of a few million dollars is not worth the risk.
Additionally, considering how many rookie starters the Jets will have next season, it is imperative that veterans like Jamison Crowder stick around.
Much like his pending decision with Marcus Maye, Douglas should ignore the few million-dollar overpay and keep the known talent.