You probably have heard people talk about dead money on the salary cap. In case you were unsure what that meant, dead money refers to salary cap hits of players no longer on the roster.
Even if a player is cut or traded, the team still might be charged some money against the salary cap for that player depending on how the contract was structured. This is dead money.
Sometimes it makes financial sense to take on dead money. The dead money hit for cutting a player might be substantially lower than the price for carrying that player on the roster. Say Player A had a $6 million cap hit if he’s on the team and only costs $1 million in dead money if he is cut. The team would save $5 million in cap space by cutting Player A, but that $1 million in dead money still counts against the cap.
How much dead money do the Jets carry into 2017? The answer is quite a bit.
Spotrac has the Jets at $17.3 million. That is the third highest total in the league. The NFL salary cap for 2017 is $167 million. If you do the simple math, the Jets are dedicating over 10% of the salary cap to players no longer on the team. A dead money total that high tends to tell the story of poor cap management.
The biggest dead money totals are those of Darrelle Revis and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Revis had a dead money hit of $6 million. That could conceivably come down if he signs a deal with a new team. Fitzpatrick’s $5 million dead money hit is the product of the contract he signed, which essentially spread the cap hit for his 2016 season over the course of two years. It didn’t pay off. Eric Decker and Calvin Pryor will also cost the Jets over $1 million this year to not play for them.
A high dead money total tends to be the bill for teams handing out a lot of poor contract. It also tends to be a sign that a team is starting for square one. At the start of a rebuilding project, teams tend to want to dispose of all of their bad contracts at once in order to start building again as quickly as possible.