Within psychology, the sunk cost fallacy puts forth that individuals are less willing to alter a strategy or decision when they have heavily invested in it. Importantly, this holds even when altering said strategy or decision may be beneficial.
We often like to think NFL decision makers are immune to such emotionally driven decisions, but at the end of the day these decision makers are human and because of that they just as able to fall prey to these kinds of biases as you or I. Accordingly, I thought it would be interesting to work through some key decisions that the New York Jets must make over the next few weeks as it pertains to whether or not to retain a player. Within this, I will lay out the cap ramifications with a focus on what the team would gain by cutting this player rather than focusing on the dead cap (the sunk cost) attributed to the player. Within this, I will not provide my own thoughts on what should be done, but will instead leave the debating to you all within the comments section.
The second installation of this series will feature wide receiver Corey Davis, who was signed in 2021.
Davis’s 2022 performance
As a proxy for his performance, I am opting to use profootballfocus’ player grades. (Note: By no means is this intended as the end-all, be-all of his performance level but simply as an estimate of how someone else viewed his performance. I encourage you to rely on your own evaluation of the player within this general exercise.)
According to PFF, Corey Davis’s grade were as follows in 2022:
- Overall: 65.9 (69th overall)
- As a receiver: 67.9
- As a pass blocker: 79.8
- As a run blocker: 55.3
Davis’s 2023 contract
Davis’s relevant contract figures are now as follows (all data from overthecap.com):
- 2023 cap number: $11,166,668
- 2023 dead cap: $666,668
- 2023 savings (cut pre-June 1st): $10,500,000 with $0 in dead cap money on the 2024 books
- 2023 savings (cut post-June 1st): $10,500,000 with $0 in dead cap money on the 2024 books
As commonly done by other teams, the Jets could also look to extend or restructure Davis’s contract to reduce his cap hit, but this would come with additional guarantees in future years.
Comparable contracts within his salary savings (if cut pre-June 1st)
When determining the value of a player, one must also consider the market at large, which can again be assessed using overthecap. Below are a list of wide receivers on their second contract who have contracts in the range of 10.5 million dollars or less (the cost savings associated with cutting Corey Davis):
- Davante Parker (New England Patriots: overall PFF grade of 74.1)
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Kansas City Chiefs: overall PFF grade of 62.6)
- Russell Gage (Tampa Bay Buccaneers: overall PFF grade of 67.9)
- D.J. Chark (Detroit Lions: overall PFF grade of 69.6)
- Zay Jones (Jacksonville Jaguars: overall PFF grade of 67.3)
- Cedrick Wilson Jr. (Miami Dolphins: overall PFF grade of 63.5 but did not play enough snaps to qualify for an ‘official’ grade)
We must also consider which players will be available to acquire. This is largely addressed via one of two avenues: the draft or free agency.
Given that any draft-declaring player could theoretically be drafted, I am opting to omit this information but encourage you to do your own research on what players may be suitable fits based on their ability and their projected draft round.
Given the much shorter nature a free agent list, I am providing a list of the top 5 free agent wide receivers based on receiving yards in 2022 (with the caveat that at this time we are unsure of what players will re-sign with their team by the start of free agency):
- Juju Smith-Schuster (Kansas City Chiefs: overall PFF grade of 70.8)
- Jakobi Meyers (New England Patriots: overall PFF grade of 75.6)
- Allen Lazard (Green Bay Packers: overall PFF grade of 69.0)
- Darius Slayton (New York Giants: overall PFF grade of 68.5)
- Mack Hollins (Las Vegas Raiders: overall PFF grade of 63.8)
What do you think?
Above I have laid out what I believe to a general overview of the relevant information regarding Corey Davis’s contract status for the 2023 New York Jets. If you were Jets General Manager Joe Douglas, how do you proceed? Does Corey Davis remain on your roster or do you think his ~10.5 million in cap savings would be better used elsewhere?