With the first wave of free agency out of the way, we can now reassess where the Jets stand in terms of their salary cap position.
The Jets' basically had around $20 million of cap space until last week, but the Sam Darnold trade boosted that back up to around $25 million. The NFLPA database currently has them at $25,675,299.
This may not take into account every announced contract, but the most recent signings - Bennett Jackson and Corey Levin - almost certainly got the minimum or close to it, so this won't change much.
The net cost of signing all their rookies should be less than $10 million, so the Jets still have around $15 million of spendable cap room. They may opt to retain some kind of a buffer, although it's feasible that some of the cuts they ultimately make will save them some future cap space. They may also be able to sign Marcus Maye long term with a lower cap hit in 2021. Ultimately we know that anything that goes unspent will be rolled forwards to 2022.
In the longer term, the Jets haven't restructured any deals to push cap charges into the future, nor have they too many long term commitments for players with high salaries (and most of the ones they do have are non-guaranteed).
In 2022, the Jets are currently slated to have over $70 million of cap space. Again this will reduce once they sign their rookies and they have some free agents such as Maye, Folorunso Fatukasi, John Franklin-Myers, Chris Herndon and Jamison Crowder who will be looking to prove themselves worthy of a contract extension during the 2021 season, along with any of the players the Jets signed to a one-year deal including Jarrad Davis, Dan Feeney and Keelan Cole. Quinnen Williams could also be in line for a big money extension.
They have even fewer commitments for 2023, with $160 million of unused cap space at the moment, underlining their potential to spend big and still have plenty of flexibility going forwards.
Essentially, the Jets appear to be setting themselves up for a situation whereby they can continue to spend a significant amount every year for the next few seasons but without spending recklessly and emptying their pockets completely. Clearly if they draft well, this can continue and they can start to spend more of their money on retaining their own drafted talent. Maybe that calculus will shift once they get closer to establishing themselves as a potential contender, though.
One other cap related issue from this week is that the NFL announced that they have allocated performance based pay for the 2020 season to players from each team. This does not affect the team's cap position because basically they each get $8.5 million to divide between the players - a sum that has more than doubled in recent years.
Despite the name, the money is divided up based on playing time rather than performance, albeit calculated based on a formula whereby lower paid players get a bigger share. The more snaps you play and the lower your salary, the higher your share.
The three highest paid players for the Jets are now no longer with the team as Tarell Basham got the most at just under $450K, ahead of Harvey Langi and Neville Hewitt. Of the players still with the team, Chris Herndon earned the most at $337K with Fatukasi and Blessuan Austin also in receipt of over $300K.