With the first few days of free agency passed, it’s time to take a look at where the Jets stand with respect to space under the salary cap.
As of the writing of this article the Jets have signed four players in free agency: George Fant, Alex Lewis, Brian Poole and Connor McGovern. Ovethecap.com currently has the Jets with about $37 million in cap space, but that does not yet include the Poole and McGovern signings. Poole was signed to a one year, $5 million contract, so that one’s easy to account for. With Poole added in we’re down to about $32 million in cap space. The details on the McGovern deal are not yet available, but we can do a pretty good estimate based on the Fant contract. George Fant signed a three year, $27.3 million contract with $13.3 million in guarantees. Fant’s cap hit in 2020 is $7.3 million. Connor McGovern signed a three year, $27 million contract with $20 million in guarantees according to available reports. With a slightly lower total contract amount and higher guarantees, we can guess McGovern’s contract includes more in the way of prorated signing bonus, which would make the first year cap hit somewhat less than Fant. While we can’t be certain without the contract details, a good guess might be a 2020 cap hit of $6.5 million for McGovern. That would bring the Jets current cap space down to about $25.5 million, give or take a million dollars. That’s roughly what the Jets currently have to work with as free agency progresses.
Now you might ask, what about Trumaine Johnson? Didn’t cutting him yesterday free up oodles of fresh, juicy cap space to savor? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that cutting Trumaine Johnson will eventually free up an additional $11 million in cap space for the Jets in 2020. No, in that none of that $11 million will be available to the Jets until June 2. Johnson was deemed a post June 1 cut. What that means is that he was cut yesterday, and he is now free to pursue employment with any other NFL team immediately. However, because his cut was deemed a post June 1 cut, for cap purposes Johnson’s contract fully remains on the Jets’ books until June 2, 2020. At that time the $11 million in cap savings from cutting Johnson will become available for the Jets to spend as they wish.
Now, as it happens, the Jets will be needing something close to $11 million after June 1. They will need to sign a draft class of eight players. They will eventually need to sign a practice squad. They will need to account for additional players under the cap under regular season rules (only the top 51 players count during the offseason). And they will need to leave a bit of space for in-season transactions. It turns out $11 million is roughly what all those things will cost in the aggregate. So think of Trumaine Johnson as the pool of money required later in the process.
There you have it. As of now the Jets have roughly $25.5 million in cap space for additional free agent signings and/or trades. Additional cap space can be freed up fairly easily with some cuts most Jets fans are anticipating may eventually happen. And after June 1, cutting Trumaine Johnson will more or less supply the space the Jets will need later in the process.