New York Jets general manager John Idzik sure must be a delighted man. After getting news that the NFL salary cap will be raised from $123 million to $130 million, he could only imagine what talent he can bring to the Jets with the extra funds. That’s a five percent increase from last season which shows that the NFL is not only going in the right direction but is now allowing even more teams to bolster their roster to continue being competitive. Every NFL team has until Mar. 11 to be under the salary cap, and with some teams already cleaning house to make way for future talent, the Jets will now be in a better situation going into free agency to make some improvements. Before those decisions will be made, let’s take a look at some expected salary cap casualties the Jets will most likely make before the deadline.
It’s no surprise that the Jets are expected to cut ties with quarterback Mark Sanchez. After suffering a severe shoulder injury in the preseason that sidelined him all of last year, his time with the Jets has come to an end. Despite taking the team to two straight AFC championship games in consecutive seasons, it was becoming quite evident that his career was going in the wrong direction. Interceptions and turnovers were starting to become his legacy. Another player the Jets are expected to release is wide receiver Santonio Holmes. The once promising Super Bowl MVP was supposed to finally be the Jets’ answer at the position, but instead he has become not only a headache off the field but absent on the field as well. His injuries and lack of engagement to return as soon as possible to contribute have started to define him. Once he started providing opposing teams bulletin board material about their secondary weaknesses, it was game over for Holmes. The last person on the list who is also expected to be released is cornerback Antonio Cromartie. He always gave his all on the field, but one thing you can’t defend against is time. Cromartie will be turning 30 years old in April, and even though he had a decent season last year, injuries are catching up to him and he doesn’t look like the player he was a few years ago. Once the Jets make these salary cap casualties official, they will have about $26 million more to use on talent come free agency.
It’s expected the Jets will re-sign offensive lineman Austin Howard and kicker Nick Folk to new contracts since both performed very well last season. Another free agent the Jets would like to re-sign is tight end Jeff Cumberland, however, there will be a few free agents out there that would be a significant upgrade to the position. While Cumberland is a serviceable tight end, he doesn’t seem like a big threat kind of player. Cumberland doesn’t have that style of play that would have add another dangerous threat to the Jets offense. Having that extra option from the tight end position should be something Idzik invests time and, more importantly, money into. It adds another important dimension to the Jets since anything that keeps moving the chains will always spell success in the NFL.
When you look at tight ends in free agency who will be available for teams to consider, there is one particular tight end who would be a steal and tremendous upgrade for the Jets. Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler is who comes to mind when you look at the market. He would do wonders considering his size, speed and his ability to catch. Coming in at 6-foot-7, Chandler’s career numbers stand at 135 catches for 1,623 yards and 14 touchdowns. He averages 12.0 yards per play and is a big play threat, especially in the red zone. Idzik should be able to upgrade this position and many more spots across the Jets with the extra salary cap room that has been bestowed upon them. The key is landing free agents who are well below the radar of other teams and of course come at a cheaper price. As much as it’s great to have extra money to play with, Idzik must be smart with his acquisitions or else that money will be gone faster than a New York minute.