Before free agency opened, it was widely known the New York Jets had some cap space issues. The Jets were about $20 million over the salary cap at season’s end and needed some dumped salaries and creative contract restructurings to give themselves some room to maneuver.
The Jets, to some surprise, executed all that salary cutting and got themselves under the cap from cutting old unreliable players like Bart Scott and Calvin Pace and restructuring slightly younger unreliable players’ contracts like Santonio Holmes.
Some cap calculations—of course all unofficial—have the Jets sitting comfortably under the cap. Spotrac.com projects the Jets to have about $12 million of cap room at the moment.
Yet still, the Jets are laying low in free agency. Sitting out is a great strategy in the first few days of free agency—a time when players like Mike Wallace get $60 million thrown at him—but the second week is when the bargains start coming out. Good players who missed the initial surge of money are still sitting on the market looking for a deal. Just look at what the Baltimore Ravens did this offseason. The Ravens let a bunch of their more expensive veteran players go and brought in good players like Chris Canty and Michael Huff on cheap contracts by waiting out the market.
The Jets have done some of this—Willie Colon on a one-year, $1.2 million deal is a bargain—but have also gone about some signings the wrong way.
With a hole at safety, the Jets could afford to give a player like Huff $2 million per year, Kenny Phillips $2 million or Bernard Pollard $2.5 million. All of those would have been better investments of $2 million than Mike Goodson.
The Jets should be looking for the guys willing to come in on a one-year contract to prove themselves and retest the market next offseason. That’s how they ended up with LaRon Landry last season, who just turned his one year in New York into a four-year, $24 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts.
So far, general manager John Idzik has given no indication he came from the front office in Seattle — a team that traded for Percy Harvin and brought in free agent defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril on below expected market value contracts.
Maybe the Jets are waiting until after a potential Darrelle Revis trade or maybe they’re waiting until after the draft to see what positions still need to be filled — another strategy wise on paper, but the draft is still four weeks away.
The Jets don’t need to go out and get any big names, but with $12 million in cap room and a whole lot of holes on the depth chart the Jets should be looking for a little something more than nothing.
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