With the NY Jets season over and the QB sweepstakes in full force, the team will need cap space in order to sign the signal-caller of their choosing. There isn't a lot of money ($8.1 million) to go around as of now, but a few roster moves can considerably change that fact.
We've seen a few names floating around during the season, but we will go one by one and discuss the cap savings, dead cap incurred, and probable impact on the field of each potential cap casualty on the team.
Keep in mind we are not discussing free agents and whether or not they will be re-signed. That means the likes of Mike White, Quincy Williams, Connor McGovern, and George Fant are for another article.
This will solely be players who are under contract for 2023 but can save the Jets money if they are cut. Let's begin.
1. Carl Lawson, DE, NY Jets
- Cap Savings: $15 million
- Dead Cap: $333,334
We start our analysis by looking at the Jets player they have the most to gain financially by cutting. At the time of Carl Lawson's signing, there was no reason to expect anything but continued ascension for the underappreciated stud coming off his best season. Unfortunately, his Achilles had other plans (twice), and the Jets find themselves with a decision to make this offseason.
Unlike almost any other player on this list, timing isn't a factor. Whether they decide to trade or cut him, regardless if it's before or after the infamous June 1st deadline, the savings and dead cap are the same.
This may end up working in Lawson's favor because they won't be forced to act quickly — perhaps after seeing how free agency and the draft unfold they can decide whether or not to keep Lawson.
Here's the thing though: $15 million is a lot of money. Just as they might plan to restructure C.J. Mosley's enormous 2023 salary, the Jets should be talking to Lawson as well.
The Achilles injury is the most devastating in all of pro sports, and it's very reasonable to assume he may not have been 100% this season but will fully recover at some point this upcoming season.
The added QB pressure from Lawson and his cohorts (Bryce Huff, Jermaine Johnson, Micheal Clemons) was a huge reason for the emergence of All-Pro Quinnen Williams. To just let him (the only one of these people over the age of 25) walk may be a disservice to these young guys who thrived under his leadership.
It should be among the highest priorities (QB, OC, Quinnen Williams extension, Mosley restructuring) to figure out a restructure for Lawson unless they are fully confident in Jermaine Johnson and Bryce Huff maintaining their impressive pressure rates with larger snap shares.
Without constant pressure on the edge, it's possible we see the 2021 version of Quinnen Williams who does what he can but gets schematically stifled via double and triple teams because no one else is a viable threat.
This would be catastrophic for the Jets' defense in too many ways to name, so it's imperative to not get this wrong. Keep Lawson on a lower salary, or trust the younger guys if they are ready to blossom.
At $15 million or nothing, you have to cut him. There is just no justification for that money going to someone who's not guaranteed to change the game on every single play.
With the money needed to pay the new QB, $15 million will cover a great portion of that salary. Of course, the ideal scenario is to keep Lawson on a much lower salary and let him ball out with the Jets.