A new professional sports team will take shape tonight. The National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights will announce their selections in the NHL Expansion Draft.
An expansion draft is an essential element for creating a new team. The team needs players so it is allowed to pick from the rosters of already existing teams.
The Jets have been involved in four NFL expansion drafts in their history.
The Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered the league. For the expansion draft, each existing team was allowed to protect 29 players from being selected. Each team was to lose three players to the Seahawks and Bucs. After each team lost its first player, it was allowed to choose two additional players to add to its protected list.
The Jets lost running back Anthony Davis and defensive back Jerry Davis to Tampa Bay and defensive lineman Larry Woods to Seattle.
By the time the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars entered the NFL in 1995, there was a salary cap. Each existing team was required to submit six players under contract to be selected. The Panthers and Jaguars had to take at least 30 players and could take up to 42 if they wanted. They had to use up at least $14 million of their salary cap space but could use more. The cap was then $36.5 million.
The Jets lost defensive end Paul Frase to Jacksonville and quarterback Jack Trudeau to Carolina.
As part of an agreement with the league in the aftermath of the Cleveland Browns’ move to Baltimore in the mid-1990’s, a new team had to be in Cleveland in 1999 whether by relocation or expansion. The new Browns were an expansion team so a draft had to be held.
Teams had to offer five players for selection under contract. Only one of those players could have been placed on injured reserve the year before. Only one could have ten or more years of experience, and kickers and punters were not eligible. After a team lost a player, it could pull a player back. No team could lose more than two players. The Browns had to spent at least 38% of the salary cap. Like the Panthers and Jaguars, they had to choose between 30 and 42 players.
The Jets lost offensive lineman Jim Bundren.
The addition of the Browns gave the NFL 31 teams. This was not sustainable. Having an odd number of teams in the league meant at least one team had to have a bye each weekend of the season. That left teams with byes during Week 1 and Week 17 to have to play their 16 game schedule over 16 weeks. It wasn’t so hot either for the teams with their byes on Weeks 2 and 16 with 15 consecutive weeks of games.
The league looked to expand to 32 teams. Houston, which had lost the Oilers to Tennessee a few years earlier, but the smart money was on Los Angeles getting a team. For the league to not return to the nation’s second biggest market, the Los Angeles bids would need to be bungled catastrophically.
Of course, that is exactly what happened, and the city of Houston was awarded a team to begin play in 2002. The team was named the Texans.
The rules for the Texans were similar to those of the Browns. They had to choose between 30 and 42 players and use at least 38% of the salary cap. Teams again had to submit five players. Only one could have been on injured reserve the year before. Only one could at least have ten years of experience. Kickers and punters couldn’t be used. Additionally, two or less players could be exposed who had “spiked” contracts (a 75% increase in value over the previous season).
Again a team could pull back one exposed player after losing one to the Texans in the draft. A team could also pull back its remaining exposed players after a second player was chosen by the Texans. That meant no team should have lost more than two players.
The Jets, however, lost three players to the Texans, tackle Ryan Young and cornerbacks Marcus Coleman and Aaron Glenn. What happened?
Young was the second pick. Glenn was the third pick. The Jets did not pull back Coleman after that even though they had the option.
In reality, it is believed all three of these picks were orchestrated. In modern sports, the expansion draft can help a cash strapped team since the contracts of claimed players disappear.
Young, an inexpensive 25 year old starter, didn’t fit the profile of the type of player usually left exposed to an expansion draft. The Jets were, however, over the salary cap at the time. The likely story is the Jets worked out a deal where they allowed the Texans to take Young in exchange for Houston taking on the relatively expensive contracts of Glenn and Coleman, which cleared needed cap space.