New York Jets GM John Idzik Inherits A Salary Cap Nightmare

By Harry Dole


Often injured New York Jets All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis may be looking over his shoulder as his value to the rebuilding team may not be as high as it once was. Ed Mulholland – USA TODAY SPORTS


Do you get the impression the New York Jets acquired under-utilized QB Tim Tebow just to continuously keep their name in the papers?  The latest Tebow saga has the former Heisman winner being “forced” upon Jets owner Woody Johnson by ex-GM Mike Tannenbaum, who was axed one day after the end of the 2012 NFL season.

Since Johnson is the money guy, maybe next time he should “Just Say No,” a slogan championed by first lady Nancy Reagan in the 1980’s for the failed “War On Drugs.”  Just like the Reagan administration had a tendency to make decisions which, in hindsight, have been somewhat destructive for American society, Johnson has signed off on decisions which have been somewhat destructive to the Jets football society.

Nobody would mistake Johnson for having one of the sharpest football minds in the game as an owner, which is why he requires the services of a headhunting firm to locate a new general manager.  Hopefully, the consulting firm knows more about the workings of an NFL front office than Johnson does.

Of course, it would be foolish at this point to pass judgment on the recent hiring of Seattle Seahawks VP John Idzik as new Jets GM.  Was Idzik the guy at the top of the Jets list or is he one of the few individuals brave enough to step into a job where there most certainly will be a few years of severe growing pains?

With his father also being an NFL front office guy back in the day, Idzik certainly has the pedigree to succeed.  Idzik also has a couple of decades experience in the front office, having been associated with three NFL teams.  Idzik has no experience as a GM, although he was an Assistant GM in Tampa.  But then again, no amount of GM experience can prepare Idzik for what he is about to go through in the swamps of Jersey.

Idzik’s success will hinge on how strong he is on the player personnel front, which was an obvious Tannenbaum weakness.  It has been feast or famine for the Jets in recent years, both during the draft and in the free agent market.  Idzik will have to bring a level of consistency to the Jets personnel.  As always, a top notch scouting staff will be vital.

The first order of business for Idzik will be to get the Jets nightmarish salary cap situation under control.  According to ESPN, the Jets are in the worst shape of any NFL team, being $19.4M over the cap.  Idzik will be looking to slash anywhere he can to give the Jets some wiggle room to sign the incoming rookies and maintain a working reserve.

The veteran Jet players who appear to be on the cutting board include OT Jason Smith, OLB Calvin Pace, LB Bart Scott, NT Sione Pouha, S Eric Smith and QB Tim Tebow.  The Jets also have the option of restructuring the contracts of veterans such as WR Santonio Holmes, LB David Harris and OT D’Brickshaw Ferguson.  There are plenty of ways to skin the cat here.

Where it gets sticky for Idzik are the contractual situations for all-world CB Darrelle Revis and all-bust QB Mark Sanchez.  If Revis rehabs to his old self, after the 2013 season, he will be asking for the world ($16M+ per/yr), and it may not be wise for a rebuilding team like the Jets to pay it.

Trading a healthy and fully rehabilitated Revis is certainly a viable option; especially considering his less than amicable attitude during previous contract negotiations with the team.  If Revis does not return to his old self, then the Jets will have leverage against him, as per the damaged goods doctrine.

Since the Jets are no longer expected to contend and are in full blown rebuilding mode, Revis no longer holds a gun to the team’s head.  If the Jets can wrangle some high end draft choices and/or a good young arm for Revis, they should strongly consider the deal.

QB Kirk Cousins of the Washington Redskins may be someone the Jets would want to take a long look at.  The Skins secondary was a weak link all season.  Can you imagine a healthy RGIII and Revis in DC together?  Of course, the Jets would be asking for a bit more than just Cousins for Revis, who is one of the few players in the league who has the potential to transform an entire defense.

As for Sanchez, if the Jets are unable to move him (maybe a package deal with Revis?), they will have little choice but to bite the bullet and retain him for 2013.  Even if Sanchez ends up being a very expensive backup, cutting him loose at this point with no return makes little sense.

Which brings us full circle to Tebow; right where this conversation began. If the Jets have no plans to play him and he does not garner any NFL interest, it would be best for Tebow to play for the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL, the team which owns his rights.

The Alouettes outstanding veteran signal-caller QB Anthony Calvillo will be 41 years of age in August 2013.  Tebow would be a perfect fit in a city where everything is named after saints and has the most Catholic churches per capita.  The Alouettes even play in a stadium which is situated at the foot of Mount Royal, which has a giant metal cross erected at the top.  You can’t make this stuff up.

Idzik will be introduced to the media by the organization during a press conference on Thursday, at which time his baptism under fire will begin.  And I am sure Tebow can tell Idzik a thing or two about what to expect during such a baptism.

Twitter @HarrisDole

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