Let us take stock of where the Jets are in relation to the salary cap. We will have to estimate a bit, but we can get into the ballpark.
Current NFLPA records have the Jets owning around $9 million in space. That seems simple, right? It isn’t.
That is only where the team is today. There are further cap charges coming. You might have X amount of dollars in the bank today, but if you know there are bills to pay later in the month, that has an impact on your finances.
What are other charges that will come?
The Jets don’t have any Draft picks right now so none of them are signed or taking up cap space. Spotrac has the Jets’ cap pool around $8 million. One of the quirks of the NFL offseason is that only the top 51 cap hits count against your team’s salary cap so the Draft picks are going to knock some cheaper players currently residing in top 51 out. Let’s estimate the difference is $4 million in cap space. We already factored in the players who would get knocked out of the top 51 but eventually make the team.
Two extra players
As you probably know, teams have 53 players during the regular season. That means we will have to budget salaries for two more players from that top 51 offseason calculation. Let’s say that adds $1 million or so.
The ten man practice squad counts against the salary cap. Salaries for the practice squad are quite low. In 2016, the minimum was $6,900 per week, which added up to around $117,000 per season. There usually isn’t much reason to go beyond the minimum for this type of player so let’s add it up and say the cost will be around $1 million.
That is approximately $6 million of the $9 million the Jets currently have in cap space. $3 million is left, but that is a ballpark amount of reserve you want to have. Remember, you are going to need to sign free agents during the season to replace injured players who go on IR.
Does this mean the Jets are capped out? Not exactly. There still is some flexibility here that would allow the Jets to create cap space.
Sheldon Richardson and Calvin Pryor are frequently mentioned trade possibilities. Trading Richardson would create around $8 million in cap space. A trade of Pryor would create around $1.6 million. In terms of candidates to be released, Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist would both create $6 million if they were designated post June 1 cuts.
My educated guess is we will see some combination of these moves to create more cap space. I am not sure the Jets necessarily need to do anything, but they are right up against the cap functionally speaking. It would be ludicrous for this team to spend all the way to the cap this year. This is one of the least talented rosters in the league. Some other move to clear space has to be coming, right?
If you want a longer term view, there is some good news. Over the Cap notes the Jets have less than $120 million in current cap liabilities for the 2018 season, and that is before further cuts which could open up even more room. That will likely mean tens of millions in cap space.
Of course the bad news is that room was achieved through having almost no good veteran players rather than deft cap management.