FIRST TIME poster here. Over the first week of free agency, I have been wondering what exactly is going on. To answer that question, I will try to do what a lot of other people are doing: get in the head of John Idizik. Honestly, I don't know his plans for the Jets’ future. I, like you, am not an expert. If we knew anything more than speculation, we would be making money at Florham Park rather than posting on here. But I will try my best to get a conversation started about what may be going through Idizik’s head.
It is no secret that Jets fan are upset with the lack of free agency spending. I thought coming into this offseason we would be picking up key names to play a big role for the Jets moving forward into the future. I thought at a minimum we would be picking up players capable of starting who could fill holes in the secondary, offensive line, etc. We have not done that, however, other than signing Decker and Giacomini. Why?
The salary cap for the 2014 season is $133 million dollars per team. That is roughly $6-7 million more than expected because of the revenue the league made last year. The current Jets players under contract account for $95,456,000. That leaves the Jets about $37.5 million under the cap. The Jets have about $8 million in dead money, so that leaves them with about $29.5 million to spend. If the Jets cut Sanchez before his March roster bonus as expected, they will save another $8.3 million. That will leave the Jets with about $37.8 after signing Decker, Giacomini, Cumberland, Pace, Folk and the rest of the crew they signed this offseason. The problem is that it would be extremely hard to spend that amount of money on the remaining free agent class, especially with Idizik’s tight purse strings. It is almost unimaginable that he would break the bank with any other free agent signing other than maybe bringing Cro back.
So, I felt the need to dig into these numbers a little more. The Jets will have to field a 53 man roster. After cutting Sanchez, the Jets will have 51 players on their roster. Some of these players I have never heard of and I don’t expect them to contribute. (As an FYI I am getting most of these numbers from overthecap.com). So if Idizik continues to look for bargains and rebuild through the draft as I’ve heard so many times, I assume that number will move up a bit. I read somewhere that most teams need about $6-8 million to sign players from the draft and for injured players who need to be replaced during the season. Since the Jets will probably have about 12 picks from the draft (including compensatory picks) let’s assume that number is on the higher side for the Jets and they spend $8 million. That brings their total to around $29.8 million extra, after they have signed their draft picks. Eric Reid, drafted 18th (which is the pick the Jets have this year), has a cap number of $1.93 million. The Jets will probably end up paying their 18th overall pick around $2 million, so the overall $8 million dollar cost of the Jets signing their free agents seems reasonable. So with about $29.8 million left over, what are the Jets going to do?
First, hopefully sign Cro. It was reported that the Jets offered DRC a one year, $6 million deal. With the market thinning out I assume Idizik would offer the older cousin about the same amount (6mil/yr). If not to appease Jets fans, then to hopefully quiet Rex who loves him some corners. That would lower the cap by about $5.5 million, depending on who is moved or cut to bring him in. So now the Jets are looking at around $23.8 million to spend. I tried to figure out how the Jets could use this money strategically. Could the Jets restructure contracts so that they pay a larger portion of some contracts this year to free up room for the future? Maybe, I have no idea. One thing that is clear is that teams have to spend 89% of the salary cap per year over a 4-year period. The rest can be carried over to the next year. So, if the Jets decide to carry over the maximum amount allowable (11%), they could carry over $14.63 million. If you subtract that from the potential $23.8 million the Jets have left to spend this offseason (after signing Cro), that would still leave the Jets with about $9.17 million. This is a far cry from the giant number we started with. Additionally, a lot of the players currently under contract are not going to see the field. I assume Idizik is going to bring in another 6-8 players, probably in their mid-20's, to compete and hopefully contribute. Let’s assume that the players he brings in are 25- 29-years-old and have been in the league 4-6 years. The veteran minimum for a player around that age is $730,000. And lets assume that half of these players break the $1mil/yr price tag (Leger Douzable is $1mil/yr player). That adds another $2,670,000 (3x(730,000-420,000) + 3x(1mil-420,000)) to the cap if we bring in 6 players, or $3,560,000, if we bring in 8. Now our cap has gone from $9.17 million to between $5.6 - 6.5 million. That is not a lot of money. The Jets have also recently been linked to Jacoby Ford and Sidney Rice. These players would make more than the $1 million I proposed. Jeremy Kerley (who I like) is a $1.5mil/yr receiver.
So, if you look at the numbers and if the Jets carry forward the maximum amount possible, that might account for Idizik’s relative inactivity in the free agent market. Another factor that might account for the Jets inactivity is Idizik’s love of compensatory picks. If the Jets are focused on compensatory picks, that might be a reason for Idizik to remain patient and lose more free agents than he gains. For some background info on compensatory picks you can just Google them or go http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NFL_Draft#Compensatory_picks.
So, overall, I don’t know what is going on in Florham park but I just assume there is a method to the madness behind Idizik’s actions. There clearly can be debate about if carrying over the maximum amount allowable is wise or not, but this is a conceivable strategy that might explain why we keep losing out on free agents and why Idizik seems as cool as a cucumber. This strategy may be folding a bit on the upcoming season but as we’ve all heard, Idizik is about building through the draft, being a tough negotiator, and not overpaying for mediocre players. While our cap may say $38 million, the Jets may just take the field with what they have and continue the rebuilding process.