Jason over at NYJetsCap.com has an extremely thorough article up describing the quagmire the Jets find themselves in relative to the salary cap. If you haven't checked it out already, you owe it to yourself to click over. It explains how the Jets got into this mess and what their options are going forward.
Quite disturbing is the state of the roster even if the Jets make obvious cuts, Scott, Pace, Pouha, and Jason and Eric Smith:
Sounds great right? The problem is that the roster is so top heavy that even with all that money its still a barebones roster. That would be a roster of only 35 players. The roster would now be without 2/5 of their starting 2012 offensive line, starting tight end, starting defensive end, starting nose tackle, 2 starting linebackers, and 2 starting safeties. Now it’s a bad team so maybe those actual player losses are not terrible but it means you need to find starters. With $5 million earmarked for the draft, of which you hope to get 4 guys who stick you are looking at $13 million to spend for 14 roster spots. And that is just to fill the 53 man. Most of the guys on the current projected 53 man are guys who are minimum salary players that have yet to play a meaningful offensive or defensive snap in the NFL. Not to mention that have Darrelle Revis’ contract hanging over their heads and a need to extend him before the end of 2013 if the Jets intend to keep him in 2014 and beyond.
It's quite disturbing to see this because Jason has been a voice pleading for calm in the past. Pretty much every recent year, the media has looked at the Jets' situation and declared cap hell loomed. Jason has explained it wasn't as bad as it looked. Now he's saying it is that bad.
He goes on to explain there are two bad options. The first is to continue to clear cap space in the short run at the expense of the long run. That is how the Jets got into this mess. The second is to gut the roster of any talent and start over.
I have seen some people embrace the second approach, but it's the kind of thing that sounds better in theory than in practice. It will virtually guarantee multiple seasons worse than this one. It's easy to say you'll be ok with it. Will you, though, really? Even if the Jets do everything right, it could be years before they do anything of note. Look at the Detroit Lions. They started from scratch after 2008. They've done almost everything right. They got a good coach. They got a good quarterback. They hit on Draft picks. They made smart free agent signings. They still haven't won a Playoff game and appear poised to extend that streak. And that's if you do things right. It could end up being like the Bills' perpetual state of rebuilding and horrible decision after horrible decision.
The Jets are going to need to put a representative team on the field. The best option really might be to continue this path, shed what bad contracts they have, get smarter with the Draft and free agency, and hope this thing is more manageable in a year or two. That path might actually be the quicker way to get where this team wants to go.