With the continuing rumors that the NFL lockout will be coming to an end in the near future it is time to start looking at the New York Jets salary cap situation as the team prepares for free agency. Recently Jason Fitzgerald from NYJETSCAP.com took the time to answer a few questions regarding the Jets cap situation. For those of you that are not familiar with NYJETSCAP.com, it is arguably one of the most informative Jets related websites on the internet.
TR: Jason, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. Based on the information that you have gathered where do you think the Jets stand in terms of a salary cap number for the 2011 season?
JF: Assuming that the franchise tag remains a valid mechanism in the new CBA the Jets will have approximately $111 million in cap commitments towards players currently under contract. That number does include workout bonus money and its uncertain as to what will happen with that money in a new CBA. The Jets workout money is close to $4 million. What that figure does not include is dead money from players who were cut- Kris Jenkins, Vernon Gholston, and Damien Woody- at the end of the season. Most people do not believe that dead money from players released in 2010 will remain on the books in 2011, however, if it does the Jets cap figure will balloon to around $120 million. If that is the case the Jets will have to make some rapid contractual adjustments at the start of the league year in order to have the cap space to sign their rookies and their free agents.
TR: In terms of creating additional cap room, which contracts can you see the Jets trying to re-work/restructure?
JF: Luckily the Jets have a significant amount of flexibility in restructuring some deals to make added cap room, provided that the new CBA operates under the old rules as it pertains to renegotiations. If the 30% rule, which really came into play the last two years, remains tied to 2009 then there would be less flexibility for the Jets.
The big cap relief would come from reworking the Mark Sanchez contract. Sanchez has a cap hit of nearly $18 million of which $14.75 million is tied into his yearly salary. My guess is they would gladly pay him $10 million of that figure in the form of a bonus, tack a dummy year or two onto the end of the contract for cap purposes, and bring his cap number down to about $10 million in 2011. That would create nearly 8 million in additional cap space.
The other big cap relief would come from signing David Harris to a long term contract rather than allowing him to play the year on a 1 year $10 million tender. $10 million is an insane amount of money to pay to an inside linebacker for just one season and I could not imagine the Jets allowing it to happen. If they signed him to a 5 or 6 year contract they could bring that number down to $4-4.5 million.
Bryan Thomas is the other candidate. He makes $3.7 million in 2011 and there is almost no chance he plays at that figure. My guess is he will have the same type of “Hard Knocks” moment that Kellen Clemens had last year where Mike Tannenbaum presents a take it or leave it offer that is less than half of what he is scheduled to make.
I have seen other names mentioned online such as Darrelle Revis and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, but so little of their cap charges are tied into base salary that its doubtful that much would be gained by reworking their contracts just a year after they originally signed them. Calvin Pace is another one mentioned but there is almost nothing to be gained by reworking his deal. If anything the Jets would probably like to escape from that deal because he is so erratic in his performance.
TR: There have been several reports that the new collective bargaining agreement will deem players free agents after four years of service (along with their contract expiring). How much will this rule change impact the Jets ability to re-sign their free agents?
JF: All along I had assumed that this would be the case. The Jets did not even tender their potential restricted free agents until very late in the process so I think they were of that same mindset and only did it to cover all bases since other teams were doing it. The only player that this will potentially hurt in dealing with is WR Santonio Holmes. Holmes was never going to play under any restricted tag, but it gave the Jets some added leverage in contract negotiations. That leverage will disappear making it a tougher negotiation and a higher cap charge to consider. Antonio Cromartie was the only other RFA of note, but he has stated so many times his desire to stay in NY that losing the leverage of the tag means almost nothing. The other players are all fringe NFL guys and keeping or losing them means little.
TR: You recently did a breakdown on the value of wide receiver Randy Moss. Do you think Gang Green should look into signing Moss if they are unable to re-sign both Braylon and Santonio?
JF: I’d stay away from Moss. As I stated in that article, when you actually looked closely at Moss’ numbers with the Raiders he was still performing at a very high level. He was just on an awful team with nobody to throw him the football. In hindsight, it should have been no surprise that he exploded once he got to New England. Last year, on the other hand, was a disaster. He put up awful numbers on good and bad teams. Those were the numbers of a player who is pretty much done. I’ve always felt that Terrell Owens would have been a smart replacement for Edwards, if Edwards left, but Owens’ ACL injury makes that just as risky as Moss. If Plaxico Burress had a strong workout I could see the Jets looking there and trying to sell him on the point of redeeming his career in NY.
TR: Any predictions on when the NFL lockout will end?
JF: Im optimistic about it and I think both sides want to get everyone into camp. I think there could be a deal by July 7th with the league resuming by the 11th.
TR: Jason, once again thank you for your time and for providing some great insight on the New York Jets cap situation. Please take a second to check out Jason’s site NYJETSCAP.com as he does an excellent job breaking down the player’s contracts.
So what do you think Jets fans, should Sanchez restructure? Should get Harris get a long term deal? Post your thoughts in the JetNation forums.
I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their holiday weekend. Don’t forget to take a second to honor and remember the men and women that serve our country.