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New York Jets and the Sunk Cost Fallacy: Should Braxton Berrios stay or go?

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NFL: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

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 fifth installation of this series will feature wide receiver Braxton Berrios, who was signed last offseason.

Berrios’ 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, Braxton Berrios’ grades were as follows in 2022:

  • Overall: 62.8
  • On passing plays: 60.2
  • On his rushing plays: 72.6

Berrios’ 2023 contract

Berrios’ relevant contract figures are now as follows (all data from

  • 2023 cap number: $8,232,500
  • 2023 dead cap: $3,232,500
  • 2023 savings (cut pre-June 1st): $5,000,000 with no additional dead cap in 2024
  • 2023 savings (cut post-June 1st): $5,000,000 with no additional dead cap in 2024

As commonly done by other teams, the Jets could also look to extend or restructure Berrios’ 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 5.0 million dollars per year (the cost savings associated with cutting Braxton Berrios):

  • Kendrick Bourne (PFF grade of 63.6)
  • Jamal Agnew (PFF grade of 72.0)
  • Byron Pringle (PFF grade of 62.9)
  • Juju Smith-Schuster (PFF grade of 70.8)

Available alternatives

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 free agent wideouts who had snap counts in the range of Braxton Berrios’ this year (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). Importantly, snap count was chosen as my selection variable given that Berrios is a part-time player and players typically do not look to sign with teams in which their role is going to reduced. Braxton had 296 snaps in 2022, so I am listing wide receivers who had between 250 and 325 offensive snaps last season.

  • Zach Pascal (Philadelphia Eagles: overall PFF grade of 62.6)
  • Sammy Watkins (Green Bay Packers and then Baltimore Ravens: overall PFF grade of 62.2)
  • Cal Sims (Washington Commanders: overall PFF grade of 50.4)
  • Mecole Hardman (Kansas City Chiefs: overall PFF grade of 67.9)
  • Jarvis Landry (New Orleans Saints: overall PFF grade of 67.3)
  • Damiere Byrd (Atlanta Falcons: overall PFF grade of 66.6)
  • Byron Pringle (Chicago Bears: overall PFF grade of 62.9)
  • Marcus Johnson (New York Giants: overall PFF grade of 53.7)

What do you think?

Above I have laid out what I believe to a general overview of the relevant information regarding Braxton Berrios’ contract status for the 2023 New York Jets. If you were Jets General Manager Joe Douglas, how do you proceed? Does Braxton Berrios remain on your roster or do you think his ~5 million in cap savings would be better used elsewhere?