There are several reports that the salary cap level will be $120 million dollars for the 2011 season. The supplementary information about how the league will handle dead money from prior years and if workout bonuses will be paid has not been supplied yet, which is crucial information for the New York Jets. From a recent interview with Jason Fitzgerald of NYJETSCAP.com :
TR: 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.
So based on how the league handles dead money from prior years and workout bonuses Gang Green could have anywhere from approximately $10 million dollars in cap space to almost none. This is going to be very interesting Jets fans, hopefully general manager Mike Tannenbaum and his staff are ready to wheel and deal.
So how do you think the Jets should use their cap space? Discuss in the JetNation.com forums.