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Cap Chat

By Sperm Edwards

There has been some chatter about the future of some Jets players who are under contract for next year (or longer). I’m going to keep this to players that are ON the Jets, not make it an article-long wish-list of “we should get…” players with justification (if not rationalization) for each.

Let’s start with QB. Kellen Clemens is all but assured a spot on this team. Then there’s Chad Pennington, who lost the starting job in ’07.

If Chad doesn’t win the job back they can trade him before the season starts. Of course by then, even though it clears up more ’08 cap space, the big FA’s are generally gone and the draft is long since over.

Barring a pre-draft trade, or a mid/late-summer 2009/round 2 trade offer from some suddenly-desperate team who just lost their starting QB for the season, I think he stays in ’08 whether he wins the job or not. I doubt they just dump him post-draft for the sake of dumping him. Mangini would probably be more than happy to have him as a backup, even if he is an overpriced one.

Personally, I’d rather throw his $5M salary at a lineman (or to upgrade from a $3M lineman to an $8M lineman), but what do I know.

Same thing goes for DRob. Would I rather have a $7.6M salary ($10M cap space) thrown at DRob or Asante Samuel (or other FA’s of greater value to this team: Suggs, Lilja, Faneca, Gross, Starks, or Haynesworth, among others)?

When you’re potentially this far under the cap (upwards of $40-45M with some big-salary departures), you can afford to not only throw big bonus money at newcomers, but you can really front-load the contract in year one in the form of a roster bonus instead of a signing bonus. The cap number on the remaining years become closer to the player’s true salary without the additional $3M-ish every year in amortized SB.

The Jets are (reportedly) at +$27M now.

They don’t even have to do post-6/1 releases to clear up more cap room. Meaning cutting them this year leaves zero dead cap space in ’09 and beyond. The # in red is the additional savings if we designate the player as a post 6/1 cut, but that amount would become dead space in 2009:

DRob = $5.5M / +$2M

Chad = $1.8M / +$3M

Barrett = $3M / +$1M

Barton = $3M / (same; it’s his last yr anyway)

McCareins = $2M / +$1M (I’m a little shaky on his # b/c the Jets fudged with it a little in the late fall)

Vilma = $1M (same; it’s his last yr anyway) (would be for a trade; not for cap relief)

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$42-43M under the ’08 cap. Without losing a single player who should be in the long-term plans of a team that uses a 3-4 base defense, and without any future dead cap space from these players’ departures.

Now there are other possibilities via trade/release as well:

Coles $2-3M / +$2-3M (like Vilma, via trade; I can’t see him being released)

Ellis is roughly a break-even; costs ~the same to keep him, so again he’ll probably be on the team unless they get a good trade offer. +$2M? post 6/1?

Dyson would be a similar break-even; if he goes it’s because Mangini wants him off the team. He makes nothing in salary ($1.2M) for a potential starting CB. +$1.2M post 6/1.

So the potential is there to be have almost $60M of cap space cleared up for 2008. But that’s a fantasy-land number. It doesn’t make fiscal sense, as you can’t (practically) use $60M in cap room on FA’s in one year; there are other teams looking for FA’s themselves. Plus it would create $13M in new dead cap space for ’09, which is absurd unless they are desperate for that space in ’08 (which they are not).

Keep in mind there are a couple of significant new contracts we’re already looking at:

Rhodes (there is absolutely no reason to fail to re-sign him). Guessing in the $4-6M/yr range since there’s no bidding-war for him with a year left on his rookie deal, but I really don’t know what the target price tag would be for him since he wasn’t even a second alternate for the pro bowl.

#6 overall pick (based on LaRon Landry’s ’07 rookie contract)should be in the range of 5-6 yrs @ $8.5M/yr with ~$18-19M in bonus/guarantees. Though I don’t know how much of that deal is in incentives he may never realistically reach (not salary & not guaranteed/scheduled bonus money).

I think we’re still paying about $2M this year for Kimo‘s ’06 contract.

On the plus-side, Curtis Martin is now (finally) off the books.

It should be an exciting spring for the Jets. If not, I’ll post Mike Tannenbaum’s home & cell phone numbers here, lol.

Go Jets!

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