Crowder has been missing from OTAs for one very simple reason — a reason that head coach Robert Saleh shared a little insight into when speaking to the media on Friday.
Per Saleh, Crowder has been working through "some contract stuff."
That certainly explains it, and it's the reasoning that most had already believed. But what does that mean for both his and the Jets' future?
Update on Jamison Crowder's contract situation with the NY Jets
Crowder is set to enter the final year of a three-year, $28.5 million contract he signed with the team prior to the 2019 season. And of that 2019 free-agent class, he's easily been the most successful.
The soon-to-be 28-year-old has been the Jets' leading receiver in each of his two seasons in New York totaling 137 catches for 1,532 and 12 touchdowns since joining the team.
Good numbers from a good player. But what he's due to make in 2021 is likely a little rich for his talent.
Crowder will carry a cap hit of $11.35 million into 2021, the 15th-highest cap hit among all wide receivers. Crowder is a good player, but he's far from the 15th-best player at his position.
Of that $11.35 million, only $1 million is guaranteed, which led some to believe that he could be a prime cut candidate this offseason.
After the selection of Elijah Moore in the 2021 NFL Draft, the writing appeared to be on the wall that Crowder wouldn't be with the team past this season. But does he even make it that far?
That depends on the outcome of the "contract stuff" that he's working through.
Essentially, the Jets are playing a little game of chicken with their standout wide receiver. The Jets know that Crowder is overpaid, and they also know that he wouldn't make even half of what he's due to earn in 2021 on the open market.
If released, Crowder would be lucky to land with a team for $4 or $5 million at this stage. That's honestly being a little optimistic as it is.
The Jets are asking Crowder to take a pay cut with the dangling threat that, if he doesn't, they could release him and eat the $1 million in dead cap.
All the bargaining chips seem to be on their side too. They have his replacement in Moore already on the roster. They know that Crowder will earn less if he refuses to take the pay cut.
What leverage does Crowder have? Not much to speak of — which is why it seems pretty clear how this situation ends.
Crowder could always request a trade if he's insulted by the Jets' proposal. After all, it's not as if the Jets need this extra money. They have plenty of cap space — this would simply be a way to carry over additional space into next season.
A trade request would make the situation more volatile and contentious, but what's to stop the Jets from just outright releasing him anyway?
After all, what team is going to give up anything of significance (or anything at all) with the knowledge that they could likely get him at half the price once the Jets cut him?
You could call it unnecessary. You could call it cold-hearted. But at the end of the day, the NFL is a business.
Joe Douglas is playing hardball. And Jamison Crowder might have no other choice but to oblige.