Possible Jets salary cap casualties and ways they can free up money before March 15 – The Denver Post
The Jets have a ton of looming decisions to make this offseason.
None are more significant than Gang Green’s current salary cap situation.
According to Over The Cap, the Jets are projected to be around $1 million over the salary cap. This is without signing or trading for a high-priced quarterback or signing their draft class, which will require approximately $4 million.
Last week, the NFL informed teams that the 2023 salary cap would be a record $224.8 million. It’s a $16.6 million jump for each club from the $208.2 million cap in 2022.
Because of the Jets’ cap situation, they must make some difficult decisions regarding restructuring contracts and releasing veteran players. The Jets have until 4 p.m. ET on March 15 to get under the salary cap before the free agency period officially opens.
Gang Green has made it known they plan to add a veteran quarterback this offseason. Considering the price of quarterbacks, that could be pricey. Not to mention, Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams wants a contract extension after registering a career-high 12 sacks in 2022.
“As it pertains to our salary cap situation, which we feel like we still maintain a ton of flexibility,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said last month.
Douglas is correct, the Jets have several ways to free up money during the next month. The biggest salary cap casualty could be one of the Jets starting wide receivers.
If Gang Green released Corey Davis, that would free up $10.5 million with just a cap hit of over $666,000. During his two seasons with the Jets, Davis has failed to meet expectations.
In 2021, Davis signed a three-year, $37.5 million contract with $27 million in guarantees. In two years, Davis has played in 22 of the possible 34 games as he has suffered various injuries.
Also, when he has played, Davis’ numbers have yet to live up to the contract he is receiving. He has caught 66 receptions for 1,028 yards and six touchdowns. To put it in perspective, as a rookie, Garrett Wilson finished with 83 catches for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns last season.
The Jets could trade Davis and receive a draft pick in return. The free-agent receiver class lacks much star power, and Davis would undoubtedly have some suitors.
Three more players in danger of being released this offseason are defensive ends Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers, along with safety Jordan Whitehead. The Jets would save $15.4 million if Lawson is cut or traded.
Last season coming off an Achilles tear, Lawson recorded 33 tackles and seven sacks. Given the team’s depth at defensive end, they can afford to let go or trade Lawson to gain more cap room. The Jets drafted Jermaine Johnson in the first round and Micheal Clemons in the fourth round of last year’s draft.
Franklin-Myers isn’t expected to be released as he is a veteran leader on the Jets defensive line. Last season, Franklin-Myers finished with 38 tackles and five sacks. However, if the Jets did go down the road of possibly releasing Franklin-Myers, the team would net $11.4 million in savings.
Whitehead’s play was up and down during his first season with the Jets after coming over from the Buccaneers. He finished with 89 tackles and two interceptions. However, Whitehead struggled to cover receivers and tight ends throughout the year.
If the Jets release Whitehead, he would save the team $7.25 million. Given the team’s struggles at both safety spots last season, the Jets could decide to get younger while bringing in another veteran such as Jesse Bates, who is excellent as a single-high safety and a superb run defender.
Releasing Lawson, Franklin-Myers and Whitehead would add $34.05 million, giving the Jets $33.1 million of space for free agency. That doesn’t even include a possible restructuring of linebacker C.J. Mosley’s contract or left tackle Duane Brown possibly retiring or being cut.
Gang Green would love to keep Mosley, who is the heart and soul of a defense that finished fourth in yards and points allowed. But he is scheduled to make $21.4 million, which includes a prorated bonus.
Mosley is coming off a year where he registered 158 tackles, one sack and one interception, where he was named to the Pro Bowl and was a second-team All-Pro. The Jets could convert Mosley’s money into a signing bonus while keeping him on the team.
Brown dealt with a shoulder injury throughout all last year as he was placed on injured reserve at the start of the regular season. If he retired or the Jets cut Brown, they would save over $4.9 million.
Gang Green also has impending free agents they need to decide on, including linebacker Quincy Williams, center Connor McGovern, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, linebacker Kwon Alexander and kicker Greg Zuerlein. The clock is ticking on what the Jets will do at the quarterback position in 2023 and what players will remain on the roster next season.