Let's once again attempt to bring the Jets' cap position up to date.
According to the latest public set of official NFLPA numbers, the Jets have $34.4 million of cap space. This was updated yesterday and seems to take into account all recent transactions.
Since our last cap update, at which point the Jets had approximately $30 million of cap space, the following transactions have taken place.
Avery Williamson agreed to restructure his contract, taking a pay cut for 2020 but with some potential incentives which could count against the cap next year if earned. Net cap saving: $3.75 million.
Chris Hogan was signed to a one-year deal worth $1.125 million. Of this amount $75K was paid as bonus money and will be dead money if he is released. The deal qualifies for the minimum salary benefit (MSB) so the cap hit is only $825K. Surprisingly, Hogan is earning more than Frank Gore, although Gore has more guaranteed money. Net cap cost: $75K
Donte Moncrief was signed to a one-year deal worth $910K. Again, this qualifies for an MSB reduction but this time there is no bonus money or guarantees and the cap hit is only $750K. Net cap cost: $0
Every other move made basically had a negligible salary cap effect.
Adding the effect of these moves to our previous figure of "about $30 million" gets us close to the NFLPA's figure. For the record, Spotrac's latest figure has the Jets at $32.7 million and OverTheCap (OTC) has them at $34.1 million, but these may not be completely up to date and perhaps included some timing differences with respect to incentive payments, workout bonuses or other adjustments.
So, we know where the Jets are, heading into the final cuts. In most cases, the players who are about to be cut will fall below the Top 51, so that won't make any difference to the Jets' current cap space. However, if any older veterans are cut or traded, this could create extra space. For example, releasing Nate Hairston would save the Jets about $2 million.
If the Jets release anyone with guaranteed money, this would give rise to a dead money hit. Players potentially on the bubble with guarantees include David Fales, Josh Andrews and most of the undrafted rookies.
Finally, for the regular season, the cap shifts from being based on the top 51 to the 53 men actually on the roster. The immediate effect of that is to use up another $1.5 million of cap space.
During the season, there are plenty of things that could affect their future cap space. For example:
- A total of around $8 million of per-game roster bonuses are due to be paid. Some of these count against the cap and some don't based on how many games each player played in 2019. So, once the season is over, there will be an adjustment to next year's cap figure, either upwards or downwards to reflect what was actually paid rather than what was counted against the cap.
- Players such as Williamson, Breshad Perriman and Joe Flacco have incentives in their deals, most of which do not count against the cap. If earned, these will reduce next year's cap space.
- If players end up on injured reserve, the Jets will be on the hook for their full salary or a part thereof. This will eat up cap space as they sign a replacement for the roster. Although vested veterans have their full salary guaranteed if on the roster for opening day, players with less than four years of experience or veterans signed after the year end could end up having tax charges for the full year which they wouldn't have had if released for non-injury reasons.
- The increased use of temporary injured reserve will also have a major effect because teams will be paying more than 53 players while they have people on that list.
- With the bigger practice squads and increased salaries for practice squad members, that should use up approximately $3.3 million of current year cap space. This is about double what it used to cost, although it's unclear if a team would need to pay a practice squad salary to any veteran who has already been in receipt of termination pay.
For 2021, the Jets are currently projected to start off at $71 million under the cap per OTC, with plenty of flexibility to create extra room from cuts or restructures if required.
That appears to be based on a salary cap of $215 million though and the recent agreement means that the cap could actually be up to $40 million less than that. Still, with this year's carry-over and the flexibility they have next season, the Jets still figure to have plenty of room. (Only the Colts, Jaguars and Patriots currently have more).