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How The Jets Can Get $29 Million Under The 2012 Salary Cap

by Dennis Agapito on February 15, 2012

The Jets can create $29 million in salary cap space for the 2012 season. They will have to maneuver the 2013 salary cap to ensure space for that year given the ramifications of moves made on the 2012 cap.  Most of the numbers come from Jason at NYJETSCAP.com and I want to thank him for helping with his 2012 cap article as well as answering questions.

Here’s how you do it:

The Jets are about $6 million over the cap right now but an $8.4 million 2011 carryover puts them about $2.4 million under the cap.

Mark Sanchez – The Jets can play ‘hard ball’ with him given his 2011 performance.  They can threaten to cut Sanchez saving $9 million in 2012, this gives them some leverage.  Take $5 million in 2012 base pay and push it into the 2013 season.  To get Sanchez to do this the Jets guarantee $2 million of the $5 million in 2013.  The Jets can turn a 2012 $2.75 million roster bonus into a signing bonus, saving about $1.4 million.  Total 2012 savings: $6.4 million.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson – The Jets have less leverage with Ferguson then Sanchez but 2011 was not his finest year.  If Ferguson continues to struggle the Jets can get away from his contract in 2014.  This is how to get some 2012 relief from him.  Ferguson’s 2012/13 contract is guaranteed so take $5 million off his 2012 base salary and raise the 2013 base salary guarantee $1 million.  Then guarantee his 2014 base salary about $6 million, by doing this Ferguson is getting 2014 security in exchange for the $4 million loss.  Total 2012 savings: $5 million.

Antonio Cromartie – Prorate his 2012 $3 million roster bonus to signing bonus saving $2 million in 2012.  The Jets can also ask Cromartie to lower his 2012 base salary $2 million in exchange the Jets guarantee his 2014 base salary of $6 million.  Cromartie gladly gives up $2 million for the $6 million guarantee.  Total 2012 savings: $4 million.

Bart Scott – Convert $3 million of his 2012 guaranteed base salary into signing bonus.  Prorating the money over three years will provide cap relief and Scott won’t care he still gets the money.  Total 2012 savings: $2 million.

Santonio Holmes – Convert $5 million of his 2012 guaranteed base salary into signing bonus.  Same thing as Scott he still gets the money.  Total 2012 savings: $3.75 million.

Calvin Pace – Convert $2 million of his 2012 guaranteed base salary into signing bonus, Pace loses nothing.  Total 2012 savings: $1 million.

Wayne Hunter – Lower his 2012 guaranteed salary $1 million and guarantee $1 million of his 2013 salary.  Total 2012 savings: $1 million.

Eric Smith – Cut and resign for one year at $750,000.  Where is he going?  He’ll take this deal.  Total 2012 savings: $1.3 million.

Mike DeVito – The Jets like DeVito but he carries a $3 million cap charge while having an injury filled 2011.  DeVito could agrees o lower his 2012 salary $1 million if the Jets threaten to cut him, in return the rest of his 2012 salary is guaranteed.  Total 2012 savings: $1 million.

Gerald Alexander – Cut him. Total 2012 savings:  $310,000

Total 2012 savings: $25,760,000 plus $2,400,000 = $28.16 million.

Mike Tannenbaum puts the ‘thumb screws’ to some other players nickel and dimes his way to another $840,000 and there you have it $29 million under the 2012 cap.  Now before you start dancing, there are still some things to contend with.  Bringing back six of the sixteen current former Jets free agents, Robert Turner, Brodney Pool, Jamal Westerman, Aaron Maybin, Martin Tevaseu and Sione Pouha using one year league minimums for all but Pouha, he got $3 million this year and $2.5 million in 2013 with $1.5 million guaranteed, ran the Jets $6.22 million.  The Jets also need money for their 2012 draft class, about $5 million most likely.  So the Jets have about $11.25 million used up that leaves $17.75 million for other 2012 team needs.

The salary cap will most likely go up in 2013 but since we don’t know how much let’s just deal with the 2012 number a $120 million cap.  Assume no 2012 carry over with the moves made pushing salary into 2013 the Jets are over the cap so they’ll have to make some cuts.  The Jets cut Bart Scott saving $5.15 million, Calvin Pace saving $7.6 million, Wayne Hunter saving $3 million.  Total savings: $15.75 million. 

With these cuts the Jets 2013 cap stands at $105.5 million but you only have 26 players on your roster.  Players not accounted for in the $105.5 million number are 2012 rookies who are on the 2013 roster and any free agents who signed a multi-year deal in 2012.  The Jets also have to try and resign their own free agents like Dustin Keller, Mike DeVito and Matt Slauson.  The Jets will also need money for their 2013 draft class.

So even if the cap rises the Jets have to make similar moves like they did in 2012.  David Harris might be a place they look, $13 million cap value in 2013, maybe Cromartie or Ferguson again or maybe they cut Pouha saving $1.75 million.  The Jets take away salary and spread it out as signing bonus and/or get some give back for future guaranteed monies in 2014, just like the 2012 plan, but there are consequences.

When a team takes salary one year but guarantees the next year’s salary the team is stuck with that player’s next year’s salary.  The Jets did this with Scott/Pace and are now dealing with their high salaries and declining play with no way out.  What if the player gets injured during the year and can’t play the next, the team is stuck with the cap charge paying for a non-player.  When you turn salary or roster bonuses into signing bonuses the cost gets spread out over the life of the contract but if you cut/trade the player all that money goes on that year’s cap, making it hard to cut/trade that player.

If the Jets ‘go for broke’ in 2012 and make as much cap space as possible they will limit their roster flexibility severely in following years.  Pushing money forward will trap the Jets with certain player’s contracts, just like with Holmes after last year.   If those players can’t or don’t live up to their contracts, the Jets will be in a tough spot because they may be forced to cut a player they don’t want to just to get under a future cap.  For example, if the Jets needed 2012 cap relief immediately the cuts would likely be Dustin Keller or Brandon Moore.   Both players bring $3 million in cap savings each but who would replace them if the Jets were forced to make such a move?

So the questions are: 

  • Do you make the cap space available to sign players you want and worry about it later? 
  • Be frugal, use drafted/undrafted players to push out higher priced ones and spend more when the time is right? 

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