As the NY Jets look to improve their roster in hopes of reaching the playoffs next season, general manager Joe Douglas will have a finite amount of resources to turn this young roster into a legitimate playoff contender.
The plan for this roster was to draft talented players at key positions such as offensive and defensive line, cornerback, wide receiver, and quarterback while surrounding those pieces with complementary veterans.
This plan has almost gone exactly as Douglas could have hoped with pieces like Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, and others as key building blocks for a great team.
The NY Jets will have to invest a lot in the quarterback position this offseason
Managing the limited salary cap options that the team will have this offseason considering how much will get taken up by the quarterback position will be a tall task for Douglas. The Jets head into the offseason with nearly $15 million in salary cap space before making any cuts or restructuring contracts.
The two main candidates that could be on the chopping block based on the size of their contracts would be Carl Lawson and Corey Davis. Cutting both players would save over $25 million.
While they are both solid contributors with the team, Douglas may need to face the hard truth they are not worth the costly investment that could be reallocated elsewhere.
Other cap casualties could include players like Braxton Berrios, Denzel Mims, Ashtyn Davis, Bryce Hall, Braden Mann, and others. The Jets could get up to right around $50 million in projected cap space by cutting a handful of other players like this.
Before thinking about free agents, the team will need to look into who they want to re-sign. These players include Connor McGovern, Quincy Williams, Sheldon Rankins, Kwon Alexander, Bryce Huff, Greg Zuerlein, and more.
While they might not be able to re-sign all of these players, let's allocate about $15 million total toward the group of players assuming contracts are likely to be backloaded. This puts the Jets right around $35 million to invest in new players.
The Jets will need to make a serious play for a veteran quarterback this season and the two obvious candidates would be Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr. Carr's projected cap hit for 2023 sits right at $35 million while signing Garoppolo could come out to an average annual value of $20-25 million.
The structures of these contracts could be worked slightly in the Jets favor but it will still leave the team with a limited amount of capital to spend on other additions to the roster.
In a best-case scenario, Joe Douglas will likely be left with somewhere near $15-20 million to work with while still needing upgrades at positions such as offensive tackle, linebacker, free safety, and wide receiver, as well as depth to the defensive, offensive line, and other areas.
Of course, not everything can be fixed in one offseason and the draft will be another tool at Douglas' disposal, but the fourth-year general manager cannot afford to strike out on big signings or picks as he has in the past.
The main failure of the Joe Douglas era has been the selection of Zach Wilson and due to this colossal mistake in his fourth offseason, he will have to be nearly flawless in optimizing salary cap decisions to get this roster to where it needs to be.