Focus on the Decision Making, Not the Salary Cap Tweet
In recent days I think there has been a growing sentiment that the Jets salary cap is in bad shape because of the Jets salary structure. I donít really think thatís the case. For the most part salary cap management is not a problem for the New York Jets. In my mind salary cap mis-management comes only when you are in a position to where you are forced to cut players that you want to keep because of the cap or when you are forced to extend players you really donít want to keep because of the salary cap. As I outlined the other day the Jets can easily get under the 2013 salary cap by cutting a bunch of dead weight from the team. Nobody would argue that the Jets are being forced to cut Bart Scott next February. They really do not need to extend anyone to fill out their roster either. While its not ideal its manageable.
Have there been some bad deals? Sure, but for the most part those have been limited. In the last few years the deals that come to mind were those of Bart Scott, David Harris, and Mark Sanchez. The Jets clearly overpaid for Scott, signing him to a market setter type of contract when there was no resume to deserve that type of money. That being said the Jets quickly renegotiated Scottís deal in 2009 to make use of unused cap room and make it completely painless to cut him from the last two years of his deal. They also negotiated a large paycut for him in 2011 and 2012 that brought the overall value of the deal back to normal numbers.
In Harrisí case you have to also realize that the Jets were trying to do right by a player. They promised him an extension in 2010 which the rules did not allow them to do so they more or less post-paid him for that season. Still a bit overpriced but when you are trying to sell your locker room that there is a right way (Harris not sitting out) and a wrong way (Revis holding out) it at least gives some reasoning as to why the deal was so high. Sanchez is a whole different story and one Iíll never wrap my head around.
The one thing to considerer when criticizing the Jets cap position is would anyone care if Santonio Holmes worked out? Would they care if Sione Pouha worked out. Would they care if any draft pick from 2009 and 2010 worked out? The answer is no.
The first time my site actually began to get any recognition was in 2009. It was just around a year old and not many people had found the site. Those who did were uncertain of the validity of the numbers. While the numbers were never perfect (and continue to not be perfect), for the most part I am usually in the ballpark. In 2009 the Jets were rumored to be around $30 million over the salary cap. This was based on a report from Mike Lombardi, then of the National Football Post and now with the NFL Network. Iím sure that there was a day when that number may have been valid, but what it failed to take into account was that the Jets have large sums of money tied up in Brett Favre, Laveranues Coles, Chris Baker, Dave Bowens, David Barrett, Kerry Rhodes and Calvin Pace.
Most of those players were not going to be back and in Rhodes and Paces case they had contracts that were designed for restructuring if the Jets were tight on cap. My site is often updated for retirements, cuts, voids, etcÖ before data is uploaded into the databases that most reporters get their information from. All along I gave a number that said the Jets were always under the cap which was proven to be true and it helped the site gain some credibility which was good for me. By the end of the day the Jets ended up with over $20 million in cap room and were able to bring in Scott on a top tier contract, sign Jim Leonhard, trade for Braylon Edwards, move into the top 5 in the draft, extend Brandon Moore, sign Lito Sheppard and handle countless little moves to fill out the roster.
Is 2013 any different than 2009? The answer is no. The difference is the perception in the value of the players on the team. In 2009 the Jets had young building blocks and solid veterans. If not for a Favre implosion the Jets were set to be the number 1 seed in the playoffs in 2008. It all comes back to personnel. The fact is the choices the Jets have made in 2011 and 2012 have not worked out. The drafts from 2008-2010 have basically produced bust after bust after bust. As I pointed out before it would take the Jets all of a day to create millions in cap room for next season, but unlike 2009 it would come at a great cost because the players who have contracts designed for restructures may not be the type of players you see a long term future with.
Even with a weak schedule I donít think anyone expects a great finish from the Jets, but who knows maybe they will run the table and finish 9-7. Regardless of what happens the team has to keep in perspective the real problems which is talent development and player evaluation. The easy thing to do (and what will probably happen in February and March) will be to criticize the cap position the Jets are in. Its an easy way to look at the team and say this is the problem. Im sure it will be very easy for the owner to get wrapped up in that when he hears reporters like Lombardi beating the drum that the Jets are in cap hell and cant get out without blowing up the team.
The Jets are not a team that cant work the salary cap. The real problem is that as soon as Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, and Terry Bradway and anyone else in the front office all put on the ďpersonnel decisionĒ hats disaster ensues. Since 2008 the only quality starters drafted by the Jets have been Dustin Keller and Muhammad Wilkerson. Jeremy Kerley is a nice player in a limited snap role, Matt Slauson is ok at Guard, and I guess Kyle Wilson is improving a bit. For the most part its just wasted picks and they have not drafted one impact player since Darrelle Revis in 2007.
The Jets missed the boat on Holmesí attitude and how he fits in with the team. They may have misjudged the same with Scott and the Sanchez deal was absurd. You wonder what were they thinking in keeping certain players and flirting with Nnamdi Asomugha. Its failure after failure on the personnel side.
Itís those decisions that have crippled the team, not the salary cap figure that you see for player A or player B. If Woody decides that its ok for Mr. T to break the team up for cap purposes it isnít solving the problem. Telling Mr. T to extend the current players and fix the cap for next year isnít solving the problem. Until the Jets get a new plan in place for evaluating talent both in college and in the pros the Jets are not going to improve. Thatís the root of their problem. Focusing on dollar signs might be what everyone does but the only reason the Jets are in this position is because of the decision making at picking the players and unless that is changed fooling around with cap numbers wonít fix a thing.