It seems fair to say cornerback Dee Milliner has been a disappointment. The former top ten pick has only been active for eight games over the last two seasons due to injuries. He was very ineffective as a rookie. Even when he was healthy this season, he was not earning playing time.His 47 snaps all came on special teams.
Last week we discussed an easy decision the Jets have to make on Milliner. The team will almost certainly not pick up the fifth year option on his rookie contract. There is a bigger decision the team has to make, though. Will Milliner be on the roster in 2016? Let's take a look.
Milliner costs the same against the salary cap whether he is on the team or released.
Milliner is entering the final year of his rookie contract. It is a fully guaranteed deal so there is no gain in salary cap space by letting Milliner go. According to Over the Cap, Milliner will count $4,028,532 against the team's cap whether he is on the roster or he is cut.
This means Milliner's roster spot is up in the air.
It might be tempting to think the cap ramifications of cutting Milliner would guarantee him a roster spot. The team does not gain any cap space by cutting him. While that is true, the team would not lose any cap space by cutting him either. (Ok, they'll have to give a minimum deal to the player who beats him out. We aren't talking much here.) If he is not one of the best 53 men, the team has no real incentive to keep him. There is no financial pain in letting him go. This means Milliner is off scholarship. The cap situation only means Milliner will probably not be cut during the offseason. Unless he is traded, the Jets might as well bring him to camp to see what he can do and possibly hold to see whether they can work out a trade.
The Jets would save salary cap space by trading him.
According to Over the Cap, trading Milliner would open up around $2.1 million in new cap space for the team. That would be very useful for a team with a number of key free agents and not a ton of cap space. Maybe it pays for another year of Bilal Powell. Maybe adding an extra million or two to an offer to Chris Ivory is the difference between keeping him or losing him. Maybe that money makes the difference landing a free agent to fill another hole. All you are losing is a player who has not shown an ability to stay healthy and was not even to earn playing time as a backup this season over a guy like Darrin Walls. He had every chance to make an impact this season. The team signed cornerbacks to limit his need to rush back from injuries. He could have started out as the number four corner playing favorable matchups. He could not even do this.
Todd Bowles said he expects Milliner to compete for a starting spot in 2016, but this is why it is easy to dismiss such talk as coachspeak. If the Jets can get anything for Milliner, a trade is the most logical move for them. The extra cap space is more probably valuable than anything Milliner can provide on the field. The question is whether any team would even give up a seventh round pick for him.