Why Joe McKnight, Aaron Berry and Ellis Lankster may not survive training camp.
Looking at the Jets roster, it is riddled with bargain basement type players. Almost any player currently on the roster and not projected to start (other than perhaps Mark Sanchez) is very much at risk of being cut before the season opens. Sione Pouha and Tim Tebow are obvious targets to be cut at some point due to the salary cap savings they represent. However, there are three other players who may be at greater risk than most. Those players are Joe McKnight, Aaron Berry and Ellis Lankster. All are on the last years of their contracts, and all are a bit more expensive than virtually all of the other subs on the team. The reason these three players are at heightened risk is that they also represent some salary cap savings, although the savings would be relatively modest.
Joe McKnight is the most intriguing guy on that list. He is the most dynamic RB the Jets have, and might be a great weapon in the West Coast Offense. If he impresses the coaches in training camp you can bet he will stay, as his contract is not expensive. However there is something about him that has rubbed the coaches the wrong way in his first 3 years. As much as we the fans have thought he should be given a bigger role, the coaches have continually buried him on the bench. This will be the 4th and last year of his current contract. If the Jets draft a RB or 2 there is every possibility he could be cut in favor of a rotation of Bilal Powell, John Griffin, 1 or 2 draft picks and perhaps a FA on a minimum contract. Cutting McKnight would lop off $630,000 in salary cap, and if he is replaced by John Griffin it would represent a net cap savings of $225,000. Not alot, but if he fails to impress the new coaches, perhaps enough to tip the scales against him.
Aaron Berry was brought here when the Jets got painfully thin at CB in 2012 due to injury. Berry himself ended up being injured much of the time and was pretty much a total loss for the season. He is not devoid of ability, but if he fails to impress, he could be the odd man out in the secondary. Cutting Berry would lop off $700,000 in salary cap. If his contract is replaced by a minimum salary guy it would represent almost $300,000 in net cap savings.
Ellis Lankster is in his 3rd year with the Jets and has yet to make any kind of impression. Cutting Lankster would lop off $655,000 from the salary cap, and replacing him with a minimum salary guy would represent $250,000 in cap savings.
The above moves aren't sexy. They won't make headlines. But they are the kind of moves to expect from a GM like John Idzik. Collectively they represent almost $800,000 in net cap savings. Outside of Tebow and Pouha there are no other players on the Jets roster who represent anything close to these kinds of cap savings. McKnight probably survives with any kind of decent camp showing, but if I were any of these three players, I would not be sleeping well this offseason. Their bubbles may be about to burst.