In the NFL, teams are allowed to carry over unused salary cap space into the next season. The average team will carry over $9 million extra into 2017 to add to their cap space.
Unfortunately, the Jets are at the very low end. The NFLPA notes the Jets will only carry $371,487 of unused 2016 cap space into 2017. Only the Chargers and the Rams will carry less money over.
Wondering which teams will have the most to spend this offseason? pic.twitter.com/uDNgOZfn6O— NFLPA (@NFLPA) January 18, 2017
It is a rough season when you only win 5 games, and you have spent to the cap. Lots of big money players did not perform.
This isn’t to say the Jets will lack cap space. Cutting some of the big money underperforming players will open up room to operate, but they will need to spread that money around to fill a ton of holes.
One subtle criticism I might have of Mike Maccagnan is how he has spent right up to the salary cap. I understand he took over a depleted roster that was going to require a robust infusion of free agent talent two years ago, but he didn’t have to spend to the cap. It is a good idea to have some extra money in reserve so you don’t find your team caught in a dicey cap situation and/or have money available when an important player needs to be signed.
I think back to 2014, and one of my frustrations is I feel like people learned the wrong lessons in some cases. We remember some of the mistakes when it comes to players who were and weren’t signed, but the excess cap space the Jets had was used as an example of a poorly run team. There might have been problems with some of the moves the team made, but having some money is reserve was not in itself a terrible idea.
I am hoping the powers in charge of the team adjust their strategy a bit going forward and consider leaving some extra cap space around.
Part of the decision might come down to whether they feel like their jobs are on the line or whether they feel empowered to take a long-term view. I appreciate what a difficult balance this is. We are in year three of this rebuild, and there should be substantial signs of progress. At this point, it does seem like this thing is a bit behind schedule. This is also a team that has missed the Playoffs for six straight years.
One thing I do know about the NFL, however, is few things damage a franchise like when the best interests of the people in charge do not match up with the franchise’s long-term best interests. When people feel like their jobs are on the line, they sacrifice a long-term building philosophy and focus on short-term gains to save those jobs, frequently at the expense of the future.
As much as I want to see success next season, I think the worst thing that could happen to the Jets is a view that 2017 is Playoffs or bust. There needs to be a vision beyond one year, and leaving some extra money in the piggy bank might be one way this could manifest itself.