With the offseason here, let's take a look at Jets players who might not be back in 2016 for salary cap reasons.
Virtually Guaranteed to be Cut
Antonio Cromartie; Cap Savings: $8 million
After a terrible start to his season, Cromartie had a strong finish. That is not going to be enough to stay on the team unless he is willing to take a substantial paycut. With the free agents the Jets need to re-sign, there just is not a way to come up with a plausible budget with Cromartie making close to $8 million. One of the things to watch is always whether there is a viable alternative already in-house. It feels like there is for the Jets. Marcus Williams showed growth for the Jets this season. He is very cheap. Buster Skrine can take over the role of number two cornerback and slide into the slot when the Jets go to the nickel with Williams entering as the number three corner.
Jeff Cumberland; Cap Savings: $1.9 million
I have seen people say tight ends are not a big part of Chan Gailey's offense. I have a feeling tight ends weren't a big part of Chan Gailey's offense this year because the Jets had players the caliber of Cumberland and Kellen Davis. They did start to phase in Quincy Enunwa late in the season who was playing a tight end role. For his part, Cumberland was totally phased out. He did not play more than 15 snaps in a game after Week 10 and got a grand total of 3 snaps over the final 3 games of the season.
Jeremy Kerley; Cap Savings; $1.3 million
Kerley is not a fit on this team with Eric Decker in the slot. Quincy Enunwa also saw playing time that might have gone to Kerley. It does seem like Chan Gailey likes his inside receivers to be big and help in run blocking. Kerley does not fit the role. Meanwhile he lacks the size and deep speed to play a traditional outside role. After sporadic playing time early in the season, he also was phased out of the offense. Week 10 was the last time he saw a target in the passing game. It will be sad to see a homegrown Jet go, but I think Kerley got an inordinate amount of hype for a guy who never caught 60 passes in a season, never had more than 3 touchdowns, and went over 600 receiving yards once.
Up in the Air
Breno Giacomini; Cap Savings; $3.875 million
The Jets allocated more salary cap space than any team in the league to the offensive line, yet it felt like the unit was a weakness. Giacomini was near the bottom of the league in terms of pressures allowed. Do the Jets feel that they can upgrade with the money they would save by cutting Breno? If so, they might wipe yet another John Idzik blunder off the books.
Nick Folk; Cap Savings; $2.157 million
For all the love Folk gets, it really is not that difficult to find a kicker on the scrap heap who makes 80% of his field goals and kicks a touchback one out of every three times. This is not the type of kicker who should make making multimillions when the team needs cap space to keep key contributors.
Unlikely but Possible
D'Brickashaw Ferguson; Cap Savings $9.093 million
Yes, Brick had a bad year. Yes, he is in decline. Yes, at the very least his deal will need to be redone to bring down that $14.1 million cap hit. Guess what. It's really difficult to find a left tackle who plays every snap. Outside of quarterback and maybe edge rusher, there is no more difficult role to fill. Ferguson is still passable. Just like having an adequate quarterback like Ryan Fitzpatrick is a big deal, having an adequate pass protector on the quarterback's blind side is as well. This is a position where the difference between passable and brutal can make or break a team. Even in decline, the Jets need to have a replacement in hand before they jettison Brick. Even if he does stay, the team will need to find a long-term solution sooner rather than later, though.