John Idzik has his advisors and scouts why can't I. All of you knowledgeable members of this site have been hired as my free agent and draft advisors (you won't like the pay so please no quitting of day jobs). Some have already offered constructive criticism that I have acted on:
1. I removed the extension offer to Snacks
2. I changed the terms of the contract offered to Nicks
3. I updated the Cumberland contract to reflect actual amount signed for
4. I decreased the free agent offer to Douzable
5. I signed a second receiver
Suggestions I have chosen not to take action on:
1. I rejected the suggestion of making additional upgrades to the safety position. Rationale: I believe drafting Ward (who I really like), and replacing Landry with him, will make a huge improvement. I have also been impressed with Allen's progress. He has gotten better each year and I expect him to continue this upward trend. I also drafted an additional safety prospect I like. Additionally, I addressed the secondary in free agency with the top available CB. You can't do everything in one year and I am satisfied with how the defensive backfield has been addressed relative to other team needs.
2. I rejected the suggestion of not trading down as much as planned. Rationale: The Jets do not have a deep team like the 49ers or Seahawks. We need to bring in as many players as we can to improve all levels of our team. We can get deeper and younger. If you offered me the choice, in the deepest draft in 10 years, of 1 first rounder, 1 second, 2 thirds, 1 fourth, and 2 fifths or 2 seconds, 5 thirds, 2 fourths and 3 fifths, I am going to choose the later.
I also offered some insight on my thoughts with respect to Mo's contract extension.
Please keep the comments coming. Here is the updated plan:
JETS SALARY CAP ANALYSIS
I. SALARY CAP CUTS
After reviewing the salary cap and roster the following players are cut:
1. Antonio Cromartie: Antonio had a terrible season last year. Although I have been impressed with his development over the years as a player and a person, I believe it is time to move on. We should let him know that a coaching position is waiting for him when his playing career is over. Salary cap savings from cut is $9,500,000.
2. Mark Sanchez: We cannot have another year of Geno vs. Sanchez. I wish him success with whatever team he lands on. I believe releasing him will be in both parties best interest. Salary cap savings from cut is $8,300,000.
3. Santonio Holmes: I want a divorce. It's not you it's me. I want a younger sexier spouse who greets me at the door with a smile (and in the bedroom she greets me with a devilish grin). It just didn't work out between us. The end! Salary cap savings from cut is $8,250,000.
4. Mike Goodson: We should wait on the results of his ongoing legal issues to see if any salary and/or salary cap space can be recovered. Regardless, we should cut him prior to being responsible for his 2014 salary. Salary cap savings from cut is at least $1,316,666.
Total increase in 2014 salary cap space available from cuts: $27,366,000
II. CONTRACT EXTENSIONS
After reviewing the eligible players for contract extensions the following are awarded:
1. Muhammed Wilkerson (6 years $60 million): Annual salary of $6 million for first three years with subsequent salaries of $7 million, $8 million, and $12 million. Contract includes guaranteed signing bonus of $15 million prorated over the first 5 years of the contract. I am sure Muhammed and his agents are aware that we hold his rights for the next two years at considerably less money. This represents a fair offer that should be acceptable. Increase in 2014 salary cap (including amortized first contract signing bonus) is: $7,687,500 ($9,875,000 – $2,187,500).
Why would Wilkerson do this? Even if we assume Mo could wait two years and sign a 6 year free agent contract averaging $13 million per year, he will actually get paid $1 million more over the terms of the restructure.
Why would the Jets do this? The Jets lock up a player in his prime for 6 years (he can be released in the 6th year if production decreases due to age, wear and tear, and/or injury). It would show the team and players around the league that production is rewarded within our organization. And finally, although we are paying more now we will be putting less strain on our future cap.
Total decrease in 2014 salary cap space available from extension(s): $7,687,500.
As of March 7, 2014 the "Over The Cap" webpage has Estimated Salary Cap Space available at $22,275,558. This amount does not include the contract of recently signed Darrin Walls. I estimate this contact will reduce the available cap space by approximately $430,000 ($850,000 assumed new contract – $420,000 existing contract of 51st player counted against current cap). This would update the Estimated Salary Cap Space to $21,845,558.
I also assumed that the amount identified on the webpage includes unused cap carried forward as well as dead money carried forward (since it is listed on the page). The net gain from salary cap cuts less contract extensions is: $19,681,500. Adding this to the adjusted Estimated Salary Cap Space of $21,845,558 brings the new Estimated Salary Cap Space to $41,527,058.
Part of this available space needs to be allocated for the draft and for the Practice Squad. Using estimates that were provided by the webpage I allocated $8,500,000 for rookie contracts and $600,000 for the Practice Squad. However, the rookie contracts will be replacing existing contracts currently counted against the cap. I estimated this to be approximately $7,000,000. Reducing the Estimated Salary Cap Space by the difference of $2,100,000 would leave approximately $39,427,058 for free agency.
JET NEEDS ANALYSIS
OFFENSIVE DEPTH CHART (AFTER SALARY CAP CUTS)
QB: Smith, XXX, Simms
RB: Ivory, Powell, XXX, Green
WR1: Hill, Gates
WR2: XXX, Nelson
SWR: Kerley, Salas
TE: XXX, XXX, Sudfeld
LT: DBrick, Ijalana
OC: Mangold, Schlauderhoff
RG: XXX, Campbell
RT: XXX, Aboushi
DEFENSIVE DEPTH CHART (AFTER SALARY CAP CUTS)
LDE: Wilkerson, XXX
DT: Harrison, Ellis
LOLB: Coples, Cunningham
LILB: D. Davis, XXX
RILB: Harris, T. Davis
ROLB: XXX, Barnes, XXX
CB: Milliner, Lankster, Patrick
CB: XXX, Walls
FS: Allen, Jarrett
SS: Landry, Bush
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS
I identified what I believe are our greatest needs and broke them down into tiers:
TIER 1: NEW STARTERS AND PRIORITY BACKUPS FOR 2014
QB, WR1, WR2, TE, OG, RT, ROLB, CB, SS
TIER 2: KEY ROTATIONAL PLAYERS AND/OR CHALLENGE FOR STARTING ROLE/2ND TEAM
RB, TE, DE, ILB, CB, FS, WR2
TIER 3: IMPROVED DEPTH AND/OR DEVELOPMENTAL PLAYERS
SWR, OC, OLB, CB, ILB
TIER 4: SPECIAL TEAMS IMPROVEMENT
I would prefer to build through the draft. Therefore, I analyzed the draft to see what needs I believe could be satisfied through the draft process. Through default the rest of the needs would have to be addressed through free agency.
When I was putting together my draft board one thing became very clear. This is a very deep draft. It would be beneficial to acquire additional picks by trading down. At QB you will find very good prospects in the first three rounds. You can also find some good developmental prospects later in the draft. There is quality at RB throughout the draft. A good RB should be available in the later rounds. In my opinion there is only one FB worth picking, Trey Millard, and he is coming off an injury that would require him to be redshirted for the first year. If Millard is available in round 6 he warrants consideration.
There is an abundance of quality at WR. Transitioning from college to the pros is difficult for this position; therefore, at least one new starter should be addressed with free agency. The TE position is very top-heavy. Top tier players will be gone by the end of the 2nd round. There are a couple of TE’s who may be available late in the draft that have character concerns. They may have to be considered (Lyerla, Leonard). Due to the lack of overall strength at the TE position, resigning Cumberland will be a priority. There is quality at the top of the draft at OT. Because of the importance of the position, resigning Howard will also be a priority. At OG I believe you will be able to find starter quality players in the first four rounds. There are capable centers that could be drafted to backup Mangold as well.
On the defensive side of the ball there is a lack of depth for 3-4 DE’s. We already have one of the best fronts in the NFL. I believe we should resign Douzable and go into 2014 with the same personnel as we had last year. There are good linebackers in this draft. However, resigning Pace as insurance and to compete with any drafted rookie would be prudent. There is quality at CB throughout the draft. Signing a quality CB and drafting a couple of CB’s for depth should be the plan. The quality of players at the safety position in this draft is better than was initially thought. Drafting a SS to compete with Landry to start will be a goal.
FREE AGENCY CONTRACTS
After reviewing the upcoming draft, current roster, and the salary cap, it was decided to sign the following players:
1. Hakeem Nicks (3 years $21 million with incentives): Annual salary of $3 million for first year with subsequent salaries of $4 million, and $5 million. Contract includes guaranteed signing bonus of $9 million prorated over the life of the contract. Incentives (bonus awarded for each level reached): 65 receptions $500,000, 70 receptions, $500,000, 75 receptions $500,000, 800 yards $500,000, 1000 yards $1,000,000, 14 games $1,000,000, $16 games $1,000,000. The 2014 maximum salary cap cost is $11 million ($3,000,000 + $3,000,000 +$5,000,000).
2 Golden Tate: (5 years $33.25 million): Annual salary of $4.25 million for the first year with annual raises of $250,000 for each remaining year of the contract. Contract includes fully guaranteed signing bonus of $10 million prorated over the life of the contract. The 2014 salary cap cost is $6.25 million.
3. Alterraun Verner (5 years $50 million): Annual salary of $6 million for the first year with subsequent salaries of $6.5 million, $7 million, $7.5 million and $8 million. Contract includes guaranteed signing bonus of $15 million prorated over the life of the contract. Verner is young and aggressive and will be even better in Rex’s defense than he was with the Titans. The 2014 salary cap cost is $9 million ($6,000,000 + $3,000,000)
4. Austin Howard (3 years $15 million): Annual salary of $3 million for first year with subsequent salaries of $4 million and $5 million. Contract includes guaranteed signing bonus of $3 million prorated over the life of the contract. Hopefully Howard will continue to improve. The 2014 salary cap cost is $4 million ($3,000,000 + $1,000,000)
5. Jeff Cumberland (3 years $3.7 million): Annual salary of $900,000 per year. Contract includes guaranteed signing bonus of $1million prorated over the life of the contract. The 2014 salary cap cost is $1,233,333 ($900,000 + $333,333)
5. Leger Douzable (3 years $6 million): Annual salary of $1.5 million for the first year with subsequent salaries of $2 million and $2.5 million. The first two years of the contract are fully guaranteed. Jets should keep the same defensive line intact that had so much success in 2013. The 2014 salary cap cost is $1,500,000.
6. Calvin Pace (1 year $1.5 million): Pace provides a known stop-gap while drafted rookie(s) become acclimated to the NFL. The 2014 salary cap cost is $1,500,000
Total cost of free agent signings and decrease in 2014 salary cap space available is $34,483,333. Taking the $39,427,058 that was previously calculated and then decreasing the cost of free agency, the Jets will be left with $4,943,725 in available cap space for after the draft free agency and/or wiggle room.
Draft strategy is to take the best player available that fits a remaining need. If there are players who are rated close together, priority is given to the highest Tier. However, if a lower Tier player is rated significantly higher, than he will be chosen. I leave the definition of significant to my own judgment during the draft process. The exception to this strategy is at the RB position. It has been predetermined to wait until late in the draft where I believe there will still be quality prospects. Once a need is determined as satisfied that position is no longer considered. As mentioned previously, this is a deep draft and trading down to accumulate picks is the best strategy.
I put together my own draft board using the average of two highly respected draft analysts. I tweaked it slightly and identified players within positions who I believe fit what the Jets are looking for in players. A 6’1" 227lb outside linebacker is not going to be drafted by the Jets to be their outside linebacker. I identified all players that had dropped in ranking due to injury and/or character concerns. I also identified players who could switch positions at the next level (4-3 DE’s who could be a 3-4 OLB, 4-3 OLB’s who could be a 3-4 ILB etc...).
I then took my created draft board to the mock draft page at the "DraftTek" webpage (I would be happy to provide the draft board I put together if requested to do so). I then adjusted the order of draft picks based on the compensatory picks projection made by the "AdamJT13" blog.
Two draft day trades were made for the mock:
1. Jets trade with 49ers: Jets trade their 1st (18), 4th (113), 6th (193) and 7th (231) to the 49ers for their 2nd (56), 2nd (61), 3rd (77), 3rd (94) and their 5th (164). Trade chart values are 983.3 for Jets and 986.8 for 49ers. The 49ers get a top of the draft elite prospect to make a run for the Super Bowl and Jets get valuable picks to build depth and fill needs.
2. Jets trade with Browns: Jets trade their 2nd (49), and 3rd (94) to Browns for their 3rd (71), 3rd (83), 4th (104) and their 5th (139). Trade chart values are 534 for the Jets and 531.5 for the Browns. Browns trade their two thirds, one of their fourths, and a fifth; and, in return they get additional second to select a player they really like as well as a third.
The Jets end up with 15 picks: 2nd (56), 2nd (61), 3rd (69), 3rd (71), 3rd (77), 3rd (80), 3rd (83), 4th (104), 5th (139), 5th (148), 5th (164), compensatory 5th (169), and three compensatory 6th (198), (200), (202). The compensatory picks are of course estimated. They are neither the first nor the last compensatory selections of each respective round.
Results of the draft were as follow:
56 TE ASJ
61 SS Ward
69 OC Martin
71 WR Moncrief
77 QB Garoppolo
80 OG Thomas
83 CB McGill
104 SWR Ellington
139 ILB Tripp
148 CB P Gaines
164 OLB Webster
169 FS Johnson
198 RB McKinnon
200 FB Millard
202 P Hornsey
56: Austin Seferian-Jenkins was unable to attend the Combine due to a foot injury and probably won’t be able to work out for teams prior to draft. His stats were also down in 2013 as his team changed passing game focus to wide receivers. He drops in the draft to the Jets who jump at chance to grab a top tier TE.
61: Jimmie Ward demonstrated his coverage ability at the Senior Bowl. Although not very big, Ward is a willing and capable tackler. He had 95 tackles, seven interceptions, and 10 passes defended in 2013. Jets grab him at the end of the second round to compete with Landry for the starting SS position.
69: Marcus Martin is the highest rated OC by Todd McShay and one of Mike Mayocks’ top rated OC’s as well. Not a Tier I need but I have him rated significantly higher than next player available that fits a need. Mangold did not have his best season last year and could be a cap casualty in 2015. Martin learns from one of the best and provides top level depth in case of injury and/or lack of performance by Mangold.
71: Donte Moncrief is not considered a top level WR by many but I love his game. He ran extremely well at the combine (4.40 40), has great size (6’3" 226lb), and looks great on tape. I would not be surprised if he ends up being a star in the NFL. The only reason he is available in the early third is because of the depth at the position in this draft.
77: Jimmy Garoppolo played against a weaker level of competition but posted amazing numbers. In 2013 he threw for over 5,050 yards, and had a 66% completion rate with 53 TD’s and only nine INT’s. He has a Namath like release and a strong arm. I believe it is very possible he or Mettenberger is available at 77. If Geno does not prove to be the long-term answer at QB, I want to have someone else on the roster that might be.
80: Brandon Thomas is an OT who will have to move inside to OG in the NFL. He is very athletic; and, I believe he will be able to start from Day 1. He will have to compete with Ijalana, Campbell and Aboushi for the job but my money will be on Thomas.
83: Keith McGill is a safety sized cornerback (6’ 3" 211lb) who also runs well (4.51 40). I believe he could potentially be a starter at CB or FS. I really like the way he looks dropping back on deep passes when I looked at film. For now he projects at CB depth with the possibility of a position change in the future.
104: Bruce Ellington is highly athletic. He gets in and out of breaks quick. He has good hands and is not afraid to go over the middle. He is a deep threat. He can turn a short pass into a long gain. He has high character. This kid plays like a Jet (should play)!
139: Jordan Tripp is extremely competitive. He has good speed for a linebacker (4.67 40) and is quick to hit the hole against the run. He played OLB in college (experience rushing the QB) but the Jets will convert him to play ILB. He actually has "Special Teams Star" tattooed on his forehead. He also started four years as the team’s long-snapper. This kid’s work ethic will be contagious. I was just kidding about the tattoo.
149: Phillip Gaines has good size (6’ 0" 193) and is VERY fast (4.38 40). His most impressive trait is his ability to get his hands on the ball. He had 4 INT’s last year and has had 35 passes defended over the past two years. He will need to work on tackling and his man to man coverage skills, but he has lots of potential.
164: Larry Webster is an OLB that has size (6’ 6" 252lb), speed (4.58 40), natural athletic ability (36.5 vertical jump) and a basketball background. It is easy to see why some project him as a NFL TE. I believe this makes him a small school 3-4 OLB project with tremendous upside. He also has NFL bloodlines. Some of you may remember his father who played 11 seasons in the NFL.
169: Donte Johnson started 5 games last year at CB and 7 at FS. He is fast (4.45 40) and has good coverage skills (although he struggled against Watkins last year - who didn’t). He has good size (6’ 2" 200lb) with a frame that will allow him to add more bulk. His size and speed make him an interesting prospect that should improve the depth of the Jets safety position. I believe the Jets should move Jarrett to SS and release Bush. Johnson can backup Allen on the depth chart. In reality, Jarrett will be the first off the bench until Johnson gets acclimated to the speed of the NFL.
198: Jerick McKinnon was a combine superstar. He was a top performer in the 40 (4.41), bench press (32), vertical jump (40.5"), broad jump (132"), 3 cone drill (6.83) and 20 yd shuttle (4.12). Hopefully this is the only thing he will share in common with V. Gholston. McKinnon started 9 games last year (5 at QB and 4 at RB) and he rushed for over 1800 yards. McKinnon is a tremendous athlete who has proven production. He also has special teams experience returning kicks.
200: Trey Millard is a big (6’2 255lb) fast (4.64 40) FB who can run with the ball (averaged 5.5 yards per carry during his career at Oklahoma) and is excellent coming out of the backfield (30 receptions and 11.2 yards per reception in 2012). He tore his ACL midway through the 2013 season and probably won’t be available in 2014. However, he is worth a sixth round compensatory pick to stash for a year on IR. Assuming he fully recovers, he will be a weapon at the FB position for the offense in 2015.
202: Tom Hornsey won the Ray Guy Award as the nations’ best punter in 2013. He averaged 45.2 yards per punt. He is also skilled at ball placement. In 2011 he punted 95 times (and you thought our offense sucked) and had only 5 go into the end zone for touchbacks, 23 of those 95 were downed inside the 20. That same year he had 19 punts go over 50 yards.
I am aware that the last 3 picks will not count for the AGOP but they will be valuable to the 2014 Jets with this deep draft.
DEPTH CHARTS AFTER THE DRAFT
OFFENSIVE DEPTH CHART
QB: Smith, Garoppolo, Simms
RB: Ivory, Powell, McKinnon, Green
WR1: Nicks, Hill
WR2: Tate, Moncrief
SWR: Kerley, Ellington
TE: Seferian-Jenkins, Cumberland, Sudfeld
LT: DBrick, Ijalana
OC: Mangold, Martin
RG: Thomas, Campbell
RT: Howard, Aboushi
DEFENSIVE DEPTH CHART
LDE: Wilkerson, Douzable
DT: Harrison, Ellis
LOLB: Coples, Cunningham
LILB: D. Davis, T. Davis
RILB: Harris, Tripp
ROLB: Pace, Barnes, Webster
CB: Milliner, McGill, P Gaines
CB: Verner, Walls
FS: Allen, Johnson
SS: Ward, Jarrett
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS
FB Millard (placed on injured reserve)
AFTER DRAFT FREE AGENCY
Earlier I estimated the contracts of existing players counted against the cap being replaced by drafted players to be $7,000,000. Based on the draft, the player’s contracts that no longer count against the cap (Landry, Lankster, Patrick, Salas, Gates, Schlauderhoff, Bush, Dowling, M Campbell, Hakim, Pantale, Quigley, Taylor, and Nelson) totaled: $9,023,945.
Adding the difference to the previously estimated $4,943,725 would give the Jets $6,967,670 to address needs not met in the draft (i.e. ILB T. Davis), could be kept for wiggle room during the season (in case of player injury), or carried forward to next year.
I hope some of you found my ideas interesting if not valid.