Spending Limbo

How low can the Jets go?

Thus far in the 2014 NFL league year it is probably safe to say the Jets have been very conservative in their spending habits.  To date Jets GM John Idzik has only signed one moderately high cost free agent, Eric Decker, and only two free agents, Decker and Michael Vick, that represent a clear upgrade over the 2013 roster.   After going into the 2014 free agency period with one of the highest levels of cap space in the NFL, the lack of spending has surprised many Jets fans, to say the least.  The result has been some harsh criticism of Mr. Idzik for being cheap, or worse, clueless, and some strident defenses of Mr. Idzik as a GM who builds the right way, through the draft, and one following a plan.  His defenders say he is not cheap but rather, disciplined, and he has simply not seen much value in a generally underwhelming free agent class.  It might be interesting to examine what the Jets are doing in comparison with the rest of the NFL.

Our first table lists the Cash Spending of every team in the NFL for 2014.  As of today, one can see the Jets rank dead last in Cash Spending.  Not only are the Jets last in the NFL, they are nearly $12 Million lower than the next lowest spending team, the Texans.  The league average for cash spending is about $113 million.  The Jets are a whopping $31 million, or more than 27%, under league average.  The second least spending team, the Texans, are only 17% under league average.  The top spending team, the Eagles, are 22% above league average spending.  This means that the Jets deviate from league average spending more than any other team, on the upside or on the downside, and by a rather large margin.  The Jets are, in short, outliers.

2014 Cash Spending

Team

Cash Spending

.

Eagles

$138,118,268

Ravens

$134,839,507

Broncos

$130,553,138

Falcons

$126,844,656

Redskins

$122,362,274

49ers

$122,360,654

Bears

$122,354,723

Cardinals

$121,957,354

Buccaneers

$121,732,311

Browns

$120,228,604

Dolphins

$120,018,820

Bills

$119,883,380

Giants

$119,709,597

Packers

$118,748,456

Titans

$117,334,396

Chargers

$113,590,904

Seahawks

$112,049,748

Colts

$111,541,115

Steelers

$110,118,309

Chiefs

$109,798,115

Panthers

$108,353,853

Saints

$108,313,953

Jaguars

$107,013,853

Vikings

$106,961,074

Rams

$106,096,828

Raiders

$106,053,126

Lions

$98,013,534

Patriots

$97,721,117

Bengals

$95,660,771

Cowboys

$95,633,079

Texans

$93,844,811

Jets

$82,052,975


Now let's take a look at Cap Spending and Cap Space.  The table below lists all NFL teams' Cap Spending and Cap Space.  As you can see, the Jets currently have more Cap Space than any other team in the NFL, by a small margin.  The Jets deviate from league average of about $11 million in Cap Space by $21 million, or 191%.  This is a larger deviation from league average than any other NFL team.  The  Browns are a very close second, at 187%, and then come the Bengals at 155%.

The Cap Spending figure represents an even wider divergence from the rest of the NFL.  The Jets have only $86 million in cap spending on the books for 2014.  This figure is an enormous $20 million less than the next lowest team, the Texans.  The Jets Cap Spending deviates from the league average of about $118 million by $32 million, or about 27%.  The next closest team in terms of less spending comes in at only 10% below league average.   The highest spending team, the Eagles, comes in at a little over $130 million in Cap Spending, or 11% above league average.  Again, the Jets are an outlier here, by a wide margin.  No other team in the NFL is spending against the Cap anywhere near as little as the Jets in 2014, and no other team in the NFL comes close to deviating from league average, either on the upside or the downside, as much as the Jets.

2014 Cap Spending and Cap Space

Team

Cap Spending

Cap Space

.

Jets

$86,361,000

$32,194,282

Browns

$109,560,600

$31,758,637

Bengals

$110,848,531

$27,950,666

Jaguars

$112,348,593

$25,230,272

Dolphins

$125,532,365

$19,187,418

Eagles

$130,808,521

$16,253,669

Packers

$122,974,959

$16,183,037

Seahawks

$112,151,368

$15,241,164

Bills

$123,917,641

$14,096,986

Buccaneers

$125,137,790

$13,393,204

Colts

$115,111,323

$13,374,370

Vikings

$115,625,162

$11,926,900

Raiders

$109,853,130

$11,743,581

Titans

$123,643,384

$11,187,702

Bears

$109,967,227

$10,463,489

Falcons

$117,371,152

$10,091,941

Texans

$106,932,137

$9,632,252

Rams

$116,690,365

$8,999,359

Broncos

$129,221,116

$7,621,000

Redskins

$113,843,649

$7,184,886

Patriots

$122,576,158

$6,475,036

Cowboys

$107,019,072

$6,423,564

Panthers

$119,120,272

$5,564,421

Giants

$124,114,430

$5,123,375

Ravens

$119,281,773

$4,976,936

Chiefs

$126,198,040

$4,964,280

Cardinals

$122,112,702

$4,948,483

49ers

$129,173,784

$4,375,310

Chargers

$118,855,145

$3,729,379

Steelers

$125,179,116

$2,698,434

Lions

$126,027,864

$2,193,950

Saints

$116,908,584

$2,138,782

Now let's take an early look at 2015 Cap Spending.  Once again the Jets are last in the league. Only two teams, the Browns and the Bengals, traditionally two of the lowest spending teams in the NFL, are within $10 million of the Jets.  The Jets are a huge $32 million below league average of $107 in Cap Spending in 2015, representing a 30% deviation from league average.  No other team deviates more on the downside, and only two other teams are within 10 percentage points on the downside.  On the upside the Eagles deviate 35% from league average, and no other team deviates more than 23%.  So the Jets in 2015 are again the lowest spending team, and deviate from league average on either the upside or the downside more than any other team except for the Eagles.  Again, the Jets are an outlier.

2015 Cap Spending

Team

Cap Spending

Eagles

$144,766,514

Cardinals

$132,398,068

Dolphins

$129,786,728

Chiefs

$125,529,966

Saints

$124,635,579

Patriots

$123,357,585

Lions

$120,868,062

Cowboys

$120,738,023

Ravens

$120,600,445

Packers

$118,384,200

Titans

$114,706,760

Buccaneers

$112,336,447

Vikings

$112,256,325

Giants

$108,040,371

49ers

$108,038,737

Bills

$107,267,712

Redskins

$106,931,131

Rams

$106,734,079

Panthers

$106,469,947

Chargers

$102,542,876

Colts

$101,300,509

Texans

$98,886,641

Jaguars

$95,906,237

Broncos

$95,612,292

Steelers

$94,122,407

Seahawks

$89,075,808

Raiders

$88,187,059

Falcons

$87,502,412

Bears

$85,207,249

Browns

$79,961,628

Bengals

$77,259,065

Jets

$75,191,915

Finally, let's take a sneak peek at 2015 Cap Space.  Let's assume the Cap rises about 5% to $140 million.  If that happens, as of today the Jets have about $65 million in 2015 Cap Space prior to accounting for rollover from 2014.  The 2014 draft class will cost $2 million in cap space.  Let's assume the Jets make additional minor moves eating up a total of an additional $10 million in Cap Space, after accounting for offsetting roster cuts.  If that is how things play out, then the Jets will roll over some $20 million in Cap Space into 2015.  That $20 million should more than account for Wilkerson's and Kerley's contracts, pay escalators for rookie contracts, and signing another rookie class, meaning the Jets, even after accounting for the major foreseeable Cap Spending in 2015, still should have more than $65 million in Cap space.  One point of emphasis here is that Idzik is not "saving up" for the big internal contracts the Jets will need to account for.   That spending is more than accounted for, with giant gobs of Cap Space to spare.  Barring any large trades or free agent signings like the possible Jackson move, the Jets are sitting on a mountain of Cap Space for years to come. What Idzik chooses to do with that Cap Space will define an era for the Jets.

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