Looking at the New York Jets Salary Cap Part 1- Roster Cuts and RenegotiationsTweet
As I finish up my look at the AFC East I turn my attention towards the New York Jets. I’m hoping that for the fans this will be something of a definitive guide on the salary cap going forward and I’ll break this up into three parts because I know it’s lengthy. As with all the articles I write from an “amateur capologist” perspective the numbers come from my own database I keep and thus there will always be some errors here and there but by and large the numbers have proven to be pretty accurate over the years. Hopefully this can clear up some misconceptions on the Jets cap situation and paint it more in a realistic light as the team moves forward and be a nice little resource for the fans of the team.
Now before we start lets just say we have been over the Darrelle Revis situation over and over again on this website. There is no need to rehash most of it and while I will touch on Revis a little bit the only thing we need to concern ourselves with is the fact that if the Jets trade him this season it adds $3 million onto the 2013 salary cap and if we fail to trade him and he leaves via free agency it will add $9 million in dead money onto the 2014 salary cap.
Where the Jets Stand on February 1, 2013
I currently estimate that the Jets have $147,380,333 in cap commitments for 2013 that will count towards the salary cap when free agency begins. This number is the current Top 51 salaries plus dead money that already sits on the roster. This year I am making my first (and maybe last) attempt at tracking cash budgets and right now I have their top 53 cash at $119,904,199. When you see that type of discrepancy between the two budgets it likely means a great deal of costs of in older players who are at the backend of their contracts which is certainly the case with the Jets. Regardless, its not a cash payroll that is going to make an owner stop spending money.
As we turn towards 2014 the Jets have an estimated $101,471,040 in cap charges and $75,371,148 in cash charges but for only 28 players. These numbers are presented with the assumption that Revis bolts the team after the season. In looking at the roster I would say that around 30 players on the 2013 roster and 22 players on the 2014 roster would be considered NFL talent that at least holds enough name value to get a shot at a roster somewhere for a full season. So clearly the Jets need cap space to fill the roster with quality talent.
The 2013 salary cap is estimated to be $120.9 million and the Jets are expected to have an adjusted cap that is $3.6 million larger than that according to a report by John Clayton. I do not know if the number Clayton reported has been adjusted for Laron Landry’s NLTBE roster bonus money from 2012, but if it has not that would reduce the adjustment by $875,000. All teams will also take a mandatory $504,000 “Workout bonus charge” at the start of free agency. While teams will receive credit for money not paid that does not occur until June, well after free agency. So keeping that in mind and assuming the $3.6 million number is accurate the Jets stand $23,384,333 over the cap.
One of the things when it comes to planning is that we can not just look at today’s figures and assume that this number is the realistic number. You also need to allocate money that you need to spend beyond free agency for draft picks. The Jets have 7 draft picks in the 2013 draft. Those players will all need to be paid. Here are my projections, assuming the NFL does not make drastic changes to the rookie formulas (which they shouldn’t since the cap continues to remain flat) for cap charges for the 2013 and 2014 league year for the Jets rookie class. The total 2013 figure should equal what will be reported in a few weeks as the Jets “Rookie Pool” for the season.
|Round||Pick||Signing Bonus||2013 Cap||2014 Cap|
Now each of these players will replace someone on the current roster, so only the signing bonus allocation will impact the cap in 2013. The full figures will add onto 2014. So our real cap/cash situation following the draft is as follows:
2013 cash: $131,006,079
2013 Cap space: ($26,159,803)
2014 Cap: $108,345,179
Yikes! Now we have some issues. That’s a gigantic cash payroll this year that could make an owner say no to spending and that’s probably only $13.1 million of projected 2014 cap space for just 35 players. Those are numbers that would scream “salary cap hell”. Of course looks can be deceiving so lets dig in and see what suggestions I would have for the team this year.
Our first step in navigating the cap is to get the “dead weight” immediately out of the way. So lets start with the players who most likely will be cut before the start of the league year. This doesn’t mean that they will not come back just that if the prorated implications in future years is minimal there is no reason to wait to make a move.
Jason Smith- Smith has an $11.25 million dollar roster bonus that is due on the first day of the new league year, which I believe is March 12. That means if Smith is on the roster at 4PM on that day the Jets owe him the bonus. Clearly there is no chance of that happening. While I do think the Jets could consider retaining him and moving him to guard to follow in the footsteps of other busts like Robert Gallery and Leonard Davis, there is almost no chance he would re-sign until testing free agency to see if a team like the Bears will pay him some money and give him a chance to start. So the Jets should just cut him this week and get it over with.
2013 Savings: $12 million Cash and Cap
2014 Savings: $0
Bart Scott- Scott has a cap charge of $8.65 million and base salary of $6.9 million in 2013, neither of which are figures that resemble his value on the open market. Scott battled injuries again this season and in general is ineffective. At best he is a two down player, but in todays NFL where the passing game is so wide open he may only be useful in certain situations that favor running the ball. Last season they could find no takers for his salary at $4.2 million when they tried to trade him and realistically his value is that of the minimum salary for a veteran. Even if Scott was to accept that pay reduction it’s probably best that the Jets move forward. Scott is too vocal for a team experiencing changeover and the coach loves him which is a detriment to getting younger bodies experience in the game.
2013 Savings: $7.15 million Cash and Cap
2014 Savings: $8 million Cash and Cap
Eric Smith- This was a head scratcher that the Jets allowed him to play 2012 at $2.05 million, which was a total waste of cap dollars. The Jets knew they were going to replace him as the starting Safety so paying him that salary was a bad idea from the start. He had no leverage to maintain the salary, but somehow escaped a paycut. Smith has no guaranteed or prorated money in his contract, but he does have a $450,000 roster bonus due on the 4th day of the League Year so he needs to be moved before that date. Like last year I would recommend bringing him back under a minimum salary benefit contract, but he has to be off the books before that.
2013 Savings: $3.0 million Cash and Cap
2014 Savings: $0
Tim Tebow- Unless the Jets are going to give him an opportunity to start there is no reason to have him back on the sidelines this season. Going into the trade everyone knew it was a bad move and the negative publicity that came with it in November and December is part of what got Mike Tannenbaum fired. Tebow needs to find a team which has a college style offense in place where he can be a more effective backup that doesn’t require an entire shift in offensive philosophy when he comes in. That is unlikely to be NY. The Jets should have waived him last season in the hopes that the Jaguars would have claimed him. That ship has now sailed and realistically the Jets will be unable to find a trade partner for him now, which means they will be on the hook for $1.531 million in payments to Denver when they release Tebow. Everything about this trade was bad.
2013 Savings: $1.055 million Cash and Cap
2014 Savings: $895K Cash and Cap
Here is where we stand after these moves:
2013 cash: $109,421,079
2013 Cap space: ($4,574,803)
2014 Cap: $90,450,179
Not too bad. We have cut our cap and cash budgets by $21.585 million by releasing two backups who never played (J. Smith and Tebow), a backup who played in certain defensive packages (E. Smith), and a player nearing the end of his career (Scott). Is anyone going to miss these players? No. Will losing them have a material impact on the 2013 Jets? No.
Paycut or Release
Calvin Pace- Normally I would put Pace in the pure cut category, but he did play in over 90% of the teams defensive snaps last season and considering the Jets already need another outside linebacker, unless they do make a full time switch to the 43 defense, there could be reason to maintain this relationship, albeit at a greatly reduced cost. Pace currently carries the 4th highest cap charge on the roster at $11,573,335 and will cost the team $8.56 million in cash to play out the season. While Pace is worth more than the minimum salary he isn’t worth anywhere near $8.56 million. There are few 34 OLBs that generate less pressure than Pace and none who play as many snaps as he does. Pace is a perfect example of why you never overpay a guy coming off the first decent season of his career.
That being said the Jets do need bodies so it may be worthwhile to explore cutting his salary down to the $4 million dollar range to retain him. My guess is that at 32 years of age Pace would not agree to that and instead look to see if there is a market in free agency where he might be able to get a 3 year deal. Jarret Johnson received a 4 year contract at 31 from the Chargers at $4.75 million a year with $7 million guaranteed and I’d imagine Pace sees that as something close to what he could get from another team. A team like the Bills might even do it. If Im the Jets I cant go beyond 2013. He isn’t productive enough and the fact that he failed to do anything special in what was realistically a “walk year” makes me ultra nervous. The Jets will need to make a decision before the 3rd day of the League Year when Pace is due a $2.5 million dollar roster bonus. . Most likely he’ll be on the move and cut.
2013 Savings: $8.56 million Cash and Cap
2014 Savings: $0K Cash and Cap
Sione Po’uha- Here is what I wrote about Pouha when he signed his contract last year:
Pouha has never played this amount of snaps before in his career and it is really unknown as to how well he will hold up as a full time player. So in 2013 the Jets decision is to have Pouha for a cap charge of $6,166,666 cap charge or release him and only absorb a dead money hit of $2,333,334. Nothing precludes the Jets from negotiating that salary downward as well if his play drops off. It’s a great deal for the team.
I’d say what I wrote last March still certainly holds up this February. I thought the Jets slightly overpaid for Pouha since players at his age and his position are usually on 1 and 2 year contracts, but the Jets put plenty of protections in there to essentially cut it down close to that. I was worried then about how his body would hold up to being a full timer and it really didn’t as he was injured throughout 2012, which I guess was related to the wear and tear from 2011. In hindsight Pouha probably benefitted from all the locker room mess of 2011 with the Jets giving good money to someone who was a hard working player that never complained or made noise about the lack of success of the team.
But, like Pace, Pouha does have a role on the team if he is healthy enough to play. Really who else do the Jets have to play NT? Kenrick Ellis? Damon Harrison? Last year the Jets leaned on Mike DeVito to slide inside at times and he will most likely not return. So there is no safety net for the team at the position. But again it comes down to health because if Pouha is what you saw last season then its best to just move on now. Pouha will earn $5 million in cash in 2013, which is too high. Pouha will be 34 and the market at that age is, at the high end, maybe $3.5 million and more likely closer to $2.75 million. Players just don’t hold up because of the physical nature of the spot and the size that they carry through their careers. I wonder if his body is as broken down as it looked last season if retirement could even be an option.
Unlike Pace, I think Pouha might be willing to make a deal. He’s only known the Jets and with his career just about over does he want to move his family for what will likely be a 1 year $3.5 million dollar deal with some other team? He might not even get the call considering the injury issues this past season and that will cost him money if he has to come back to NY with the knowledge 31 teams passed on him. My feeling is when you consider all those soft factors that a $2.75 million dollar fully guaranteed salary gets the deal done and is a fair enough offer to make him give it a go this season. I am not prorating any of that money because I know he is not in my 2014 plans and I don’t want to add more cap dollars to that year. . The decision date on Pouha is the 3rd day of the League Year. On that day his $4.9 million dollar salary becomes fully guaranteed, so the Jets either have to reduce his pay or cut him outright before that date. Note if Pouha is cut the Jets save $3,833,332 in cap in 2013 and $6,666,668 in 2014. By waiting a year for him they will only save $5.5 million in 2014 cap room when he is released next season, which I think most would agree is a foregone conclusion.
2013 Savings: $2.25 million Cash and Cap
2014 Savings: $0K Cash and Cap
Here is where we stand after the paycut given to Pouha and release of Pace:
2013 Cap: $118,165,803
2013 Cash: $99,016,079
2013 Cap space: $5,830,197
2014 Cap: $90,450,179
While we didn’t do anything to our 2014 numbers we now have real spending room. While a team obviously needs to keep cap room in their back pocket the Jets can safely spend $5 million in free agency in cap and our cash budget is clearly low enough to encourage spending on players. FWIW, in 2011 that was about the cost of Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie so while it may not seem like much it can be a lot especially if you consider the room the following season. Of course that’s just an example that doesn’t pertain to the Jets since they probably need at least 10 new decent players beyond rookies, not one or two higher profile guys.
In Part two we will highlight our restructure and extension possibilities.