Salary Cap Updates: AFC East
A look around the different cap related moves of the week
New York Jets
The Jets restructured the contract of LT D’Brickashaw Fergsuon to provide the team immediate cap relief. Ferguson converted $9 million in base salary into a prorated signing bonus. The CBA limits the proration of that money to 5 years so the actual savings were $7.2 million in 2012, not the $7.5 million reported elsewhere. Ferguson’s cap charges with increase by $1.5 million in 2013-2016 and his dead money increases likely ties him to the Jets through the 2015 season. Prior to this move the Jets could have easily dropped Ferguson as early as 2014if his play slipped. His updated cap totals can be viewed on his cap page.
Rumors were swirling that the Jets might approach C Nick Mangold to restructure his contract. Brian Costello of the New York Post shot down the rumor confirming that the Jets have not approached Mangold’s agent about such a move. Mangold’s 2012 cap charge is only $5.7 million and the maximum amount of relief the Jets would receive is $1.5 million via a restructure. With a cap charge of over $9 million in 2013, the Jets need to leave the door open to a restructure in 2013 not 2012. The Jets had already restructured Mangold’s contract in the summer of 2011 and could have lowered his cap charges then if they wanted to. It would seem to make no sense for the Jets to consider a move like this now.
Jenny Vrentas of the Star Ledger reported that the Jets had yet to approach Mark Sanchez about a renegotiation and did not plan on doing so anytime soon. If the Jets are serious about making a move on Peyton Manning there would be no need to work out a new deal for Sanchez until Manning’s decision has been made. If the Jets sign Manning or a player released because of a Manning signing, such as Matt Schaub if the Texans made the move for Peyton, odds are Sanchez will need to be cut to make it work from a cap perspective. If the Jets renegotiate Sanchez’ deal you can guarantee that Mark’s new 2012 salary will be fully guaranteed which would negate the chance of upgrading the position. Once the Manning dominos fall the Jets will be able to approach Sanchez if they choose. According to Jason LaCanfora Sanchez’ $2.75 million roster bonus is due March 28th so the Jets have until that day to make a move.
The Jets plan on tendering DE Aaron Maybin at the original round level, which will cost the Jets about $1.26 million in cap room.
The Jets now stand about $7.7 million under the projected cap of $120.4 million and have no need to make any more cap related moves until they need the money to sign a free agent. The only upcoming decision would be on restructuring Antonio Cromartie’s contract. His guaranteed roster bonus is due on March 16th so the Jets need to renegotiate before then if they want to reduce his 2012 cap charges.
New England Patriots
The Patriots released G Rich Ohrnberger and DE Mike Wright this week clearing a net of $2.25 million in cap space. Wright was the big one, set to count for $2.9 million in cap dollars with only $450K in dead money. I have the Patriots estimated cap space to be just under $24 million so its unlikely they have the need to make any major moves before free agency begins. They will most likely franchise WR Wes Welker for about $9.4 million.
The Big news from Buffalo was the restructuring of CB Terrence McGee’s contract. McGee was the Bills highest cap player at only $6.3 million before the restructure. McGee has only played in 15 games the last two years due to injury and has not played a full 16 game season since 2004. He was going to be cut if he did not agree to a reduction in pay. McGee received a $300,000 signing bonus and reduced his base salary from $3.6 and $4.6 million in 2012 and 2013 to $1.35 and $1.75 million. There are apparently incentives in the deal where he can re-earn the money he gave up, but those are likely not easy to attain if he continues to be injured.
I thought this was a very shrewd move by the Bills GM Buddy Nix. Not that the cap is a major concern to the Bills, but McGee would have cost the Bills $4.2 million in dead money had they cut him. That would have been a net savings of $2.1 million. On the new deal they keep the player and save $2.52 million on the cap while only adding an extra $150K in dead money charges in 2013. It’s a very low cost investment for a guy that still may have something left to give the team.
The Bills will need to make a decision on LB Shawne Merriman in the coming days. His $1 million roster bonus is due on March 20th. My sources say his deal is only guaranteed for injury and cap and he does not have a skill guarantee, making him a potential cut. Merriman will cost the Bills $5.25 million in cash this season if he remains on the roster.
The other hefty roster bonus is due to Brad Smith, $1 million on March 15th. The former Jet only produced 327 yards of offense and a meager 282 kick return yards. With a non guaranteed $3.25 million in compensation and only a $1.5 million dead cap charge Smith could find himself a free agent in a week or two.
I currently have the Bills estimated at $36.1 million in cap space with a cash budget of $83.2 million, which includes all 59 players currently under contract, at least 6 of whom would need to be cut before the season opened. The Bills do have a large number of incentives that can be reached, but none are a major concern except for RB CJ Spiller. They have the cap room and low payroll to make a big splash in free agency if they want to and still hold onto WR Stevie Johnson.
Miami has made no recent moves to prepare for free agency. They seem content to sit on an estimated $11.7 million in cap room for now. The Dolphins do not have any moves that must be made prior to the start of the year and can cut players as better ones become availab
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