New York Jets Salary Cap Page

On the Bryan Thomas Release

I had a few emails on the subject so here is exactly what the Jets did with Bryan Thomas. The basic deal is that the Jets needed a roster spot for the game this week. The team is carrying a handful of players that are not injured enough to go on IR, but not healthy enough to contribute right now. One of those players not healthy enough to contribute is Bryan Thomas.

Thomas is unique compared to the other players in that, because of his years of service in the NFL, he does not need to pass thru waivers if released from his contract. In contrast if the Jets were to release say John Conner another upcoming opponent, perhaps the 49’ers, could claim him and he would automatically revert to the oppositions roster. The Jets have no control over that outcome and they could lose the player through the waiver system.

What this then amounts to is nothing more than a procedural move. The Jets release Thomas, sign Donnie Fletcher from their Practice Squad to the active roster for the game against Miami, and then on Monday or Tuesday waive Fletcher and resign Thomas. Why would Thomas agree to such a move? By releasing Thomas after 4PM on Tuesday his salary for the week is protected, so even though Thomas was cut on Saturday he will actually be paid as if he participated in the game on Sunday, so from his point of view he is financially “whole” as long as the Jets resign him before next Sundays game. On his end there is no risk because his salary is guaranteed for the year anyway, so even if the Jets decided to renege on a promise and not bring him back he will earn his full salary for the year. At that point he will file a claim for Termination Pay and still look for another job. Financially it would make no sense for the Jets to make the move as the Termination Pay charge is higher than his salary cap count, thus costing the Jets more precious cap room in 2012. In order to avoid this possibility the Jets need to resign him by next Sunday.

Is there a risk here? Not really. By waiting until Saturday to release Thomas the Jets more or less made certain that the Dolphins had no chance to try to lure Thomas over to their team as a one week rental. Thomas fielded no offers from other teams last offseason and is injured so it’s pretty unlikely another team would pick him up. Fletcher will be exposed to waivers, but he was a Practice Squad player before, essentially open to a waiver claim every day of the week. Really the worst that could happen is Thomas decides he no longer wants to play in the NFL and gets his money through the termination system. Considering he has a long relationship with the Jets that is a highly unlikely scenario.

All in all this is the same as placing Thomas on the inactive list on Sunday, which is where he would have been anyway. The words released and cut are powerful in the NFL, but in this case they are just words that carry no real meaning at all.

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