The Jets have a lot of decisions to make this offseason. They need to restock their roster, a roster that crumbled like an old cookie at the end of the season. Nowhere was the situation worse than the offensive line. Yes, the offensive line that Joe Douglas said was his #1 priority when he was hired as GM is still in disarray. When you are counting on players like Mike Remmers, Cedric Ogbuehi, a one armed Duane Brown or rookie Max Mitchell you are asking for trouble.
The Jets are near the salary cap which is amazing when their QB (Zach Wilson) counts for less than $10 million. Other teams are in better cap situations and have better teams with better QBs at a much higher pay scale. Patrick Mahomes signed a 10 year/$450 million contract with a cap hit this year of over $35 million. The Chiefs also have Chris Jones at over $29 million cap hit plus Orlando Brown at over $16 million yet they have the same amount of 2022 cap space as the Jets.
Joe Douglas has been handing out cash too freely. We need to fix that for the sake of the team. I like John-Franklin Myers, but was he really worth a $55 million contract extension with cap hits of between $12.4 million to $15.4 million over the next 3 years?
So what are the possible additions and subtractions the Jets can make this year? Let’s take a look one by one to fix this roster. We can also look at some free agents who may fit as well.
Brown was signed because Joe Douglas was so foolish to count on two players (Becton + Fant) who had serious injury issues in their careers. Because of this serious mistake Douglas had to overspend on a over the hill player guaranteeing him $9 million. The problem was in order to do so Joe had to sign him to a 5 year contract (because he bungled the salary cap so badly) that included 3 voidable years. If you aren't aware, voidable years are a way to subvert the salary cap. So Brown was signed to a $20 million contract with a cap number in the first year of $3.7 million. The following year he is scheduled to make nearly $10 million. There are three extra years that he will not be on the team to push cap hits into the future. He was never expected to play beyond 2022, but when you make serious mistakes expecting other injured players to return to full health you set your team up for failure. Of course Joe made no effort to sign Morgan Mosses who played for the Jets in 2021 and loved the team. he signed a 3 year/$15 million contract with the Ravens he rated as the 12th best tackle (per PFF) in 2022. Signing Mosses which I thought was a no brainer would have saved the Jets in salary and on the field.
The cutting of Brown saves $9.705 million in 2023 if it comes after June 1 but pushes additional cap hits into the future.
Carl Lawson DE
Lawson is and was a fine player but not worth the guaranteed $30 million he was signed for. When he was injured during training camp in 2021 he left a huge hole in the Jets defense they were counting on.
Lawson has played well in his 2nd year but no where near the $15 million salary he was signed to. He played the most snaps of any edge player on the Jets (663) and accumulated 33 tackles with 7 sacks and 9 TFL. Lawson in 2022 was the worst (by far) of any Jets edge defender according to PFF. His run stopping grade was horrible.
As a comparison Jermaine Johnson (rookie) had 29 tackles with 2.5 sacks 3 TFL in less than half the snaps (312) and Bryce Huff (a player with a minimum salary) had 3.5 sacks with 6 tackles with 2 TFL in only 191 snaps.
Lawson has only $333,333 left as guaranteed money left on his contract. With so many players the Jets count on as edge rushers, Lawson is definitely gone. His release saves the Jets $15.4 million in salary cap.
C. J. Mosley
It’s hard to remember just how horrible a GM Mike Maccagnan was from 2015-2019 now in 2023. Yet the incredible bloated $85 million contract that Mosely signed still remains.
Make no mistake. Mosely is a solid player, not as great as some think but still a leader and a force for the defense. The Jets would save $17 million in cap space the next two years with Mosley’s release if it comes after June 1. The Jets would still incur additional hits in the future using the post-June 1 designation . This is because Joe Douglas extended Mosley’s contract out with voidable years to subvert the salary cap.
The three year contract that Joe Douglas gave out his first year as GM was a $37.5 million contract with $27 million guaranteed to Corey Davis who was the 5th overall player selected in the 2017 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. He was a bust in Tennessee averaging about 50 receptions a year or 3.7 receptions a game. Joe Douglas paid top dollar. In two year with the Jets he played only 22 games with 66 receptions, 3.0 per game. He had some horrible drops at the most inopportune times.
For the $27 million guaranteed Davis had 66 receptions for 1,028 yards and 6 TDs in two years. He never had as much as 600 yards in a season. Even though he had 4 more games played in 2022 he had half the TDs than in 2021.
The Jets save $10.5 million on his release and incur only $666,666 in dead money.
Just cutting these 4 players saves the Jets $52.6 million in cap space this year alone. Additionally the NFL cap is supposed to rise to about $220 million which is almost $12 million more than in 2022 so that gives the Jets up to $64.6 million to spend. Add to that the nearly $4 million in unused cap space gives the Jets about $68 million in cap space. Subtracting the $7 million of dead cap hit leaves $61.6 million in cap space.
Now let’s add one more cut.
Mann is the most inconsistent player on the Jets. He will be great then when you need him most he is horrible. Mann is scheduled to make $2,745,000 in 2023 with a cap hit of only $44,275 if he is released. The Jets can do better; bye Braden. This gives the Jets about $64 million in extra cap space in 2023.
As you can tell I am not a big believer in handing out huge contracts to players from other teams. That is not so say I don’t like spending Woody’s money (I surely do) but I look to spend it wisely, draft well and spend the money signing players who I personally know about (as the GM). These would be my own players. This shows hard work and doing the right things pay off. It incentivizes my players to emulate their well paid teammates. It shows the players that the Jets will pay them when they do well.
I will take a chance on a few free agents, but I would do my homework, research each player so as to not make the grueling mistakes of the past. They would be targeted signings with well devised thought process behind them. In many cases small signings could be just as advantageous as big ticket players.
Well the best way to start off signings is to keep a players who have shown they have what it takes be a Jet for life or at least the next few years.
Quinnen had some tough years to start his Jets career with an assortment of injuries. He put it all together with a All- ro year in 2022 which is great for him. I am reluctant to give out huge money to a player who has had a career year; it usually doesn’t work out well. Still Quinnen is a quality young man who is an invaluable teammate, a leader in the clubhouse plus is a genuine good person which reflects well on the Jets. Also he is only 25 years old so he has a chance for a couple of more contracts in his playing career.
A Franchise tag would cost the Jets nearly $19 million but has no guarantees after the single year. I would think a $72 million/4 year contract with a $20 million signing bonus and 35 million guaranteed would do the trick. With yearly salaries of 1) $2 million 2) $10 million 3) $17 million and 4) $23 million. That takes some of the guaranteed money into the 3rd year but gives the Jets some cap relief if they need it after two years. That is also only a $7 million cap hit in 2023 so it gives the Jets some flexibility.
I was perplexed about Rankins because I loved the signing when it happened. He was a solid player in New Orleans and came on a friendly 2 year $11 million contract. He went out and stunk up the joint in 2021 so I was a fan of letting him loose. Still he had a team friendly contact compared with what it would cost to replace him. He had a solid 2022 season which makes me think he understands the defensive concepts better. Re-signing him thus makes sense. It also continues the continuity of the line (considering I’m not re-signing the worthless Solomon Thomas)
I would sign him to a 3 year $18 million contract with a $3 million signing bonus and $11 million guaranteed at signing. With yearly salaries of 1) $2.5 million 2) $5.5 million and 3) $7.0 million. Again we has a solid contract for the player but also flexibility for the team.
Again the first year salary cap hit is only $3.5 million. So far I have spent $10.5 million of the projected $64 million in cap space.
This is a tough signing for me because I so want to draft his replacement (in fact I did in my mock draft as I selected Creed Humphrey from Oklahoma who was the #1 rated center by PFF this year; OMG that just killed me), but the center I wanted to draft (Sedrick Van Pran) this year has decided to return to Georgia for another season. Even if I draft another replacement this year I don’t know if he will be as good initially as Connor is now. That rookie can sit on the bench and learn over the year about the Jets offense. Having a rookie center is a dangerous way to start a new offensive scheme. It could work out, but it could be a disaster from the get go.
McGovern for me is a tough sell. Even though he is solid for the most part he makes huge mistakes and gets run over by blitzing players. The game against Buffalo where Mike White suffered broken ribs was the fault of McGovern. He went to help out the guard on the pass play but allowed the LB (Matt Milano) to break free on a delayed blitz (once McGovern left his responsibility). He had to hold his ground longer. The problem there are many players are actually worse than McGovern.
With that in mind I would give McGovern a two year contract worth $20 million. If you franchise tag McGovern it will cost at least $17 million so I would sign him for two years with a signing bonus. The contract would have a $5 million signing bonus with a guarantee of $15 million with salaries of year 1) $5 million 2) $10 million. That is a first year salary cap hit of $7.5 million which is the best we can do. So that is $18.0 million of the cap space spent.
I’m not a huge fan of Quincy Williams, but he is a decent linebacker. If I am releasing CJ Mosley then I need some continuity in my LB unit. Plus Quincy played for a near rock bottom salary in 2022 so he needs a raise. Quincy will make a spectacular play then miss an assignment the next snap, but he knows the system and is serviceable as a player.
I would give Quincy Williams a $12 million two year contract with $8 million guaranteed and a $4 million signing bonus. With a salary in year 1) $3 million 2) $5 million.
I would also draft a ILB and a WILL, but signing Quincy means they don’t have to play a bunch of snaps right away. They can be allowed to learn the system over time instead of being thrown in when they are not ready.
That is a huge raise for Quincy but it also give the Jets a 1st year cap hit of $5 million.
That is $23.0 million of the cap space spent for 2023.
Greg the leg was finally a solid kicker for the Jets which they have needed for many years. I have railed against not only the Jets but NFL teams all together by trying to save nickels on kickers while they give out huge contracts to players who have had numerous problems and will ultimately have them again.
Now Greg is 35 years old but that is okay for a kicker but you don’t want to go crazy with the contract. He made $2.75 million in 2022 so lets sign him to a two year contract of $6 million dollars with a $1 million signing bonus and $3 million guaranteed. The deal will have salaries of 1) $2 million and 2) $3 million. This is a bargain. You don’t pinch pennies with kickers, but this is also a huge raise for an aging kicker.
That is $2.5 million cap hit and a total spent of $25.5 million in 2023.
Kwon waited all offseason looking for money in 2022, but it never came. He ended up with a minimum salary so he may be a little more open to a guaranteed contract in 2023 than looking for work. It wasn’t like Kwon was great. He missed numerous assignments including a play against the Patriots which allowed a huge gain. Still Kwon had his moments and should be better in 2023 in this defense. He would also provide continuity.
I would give Kwon a two year contract worth $5 million with $2 million guaranteed. He would have a signing bonus of $1 million and salaries of 1) $1.5 million and 2) $2.5 million.
This gives the Jets a $2 million cap hit in 2023 and $27.5 million spent of the cap in 2023.
Bryce is listed as a LB but he is a designated pass rusher on third downs. The Jets don’t use him enough. They could put him in in certain situations as a pass rush specialist. Jets fans know that Huff is sensational off the edge. He is nearly unblockable but doesn’t have the size to hold the edge in the run game. He had only 191 snaps in 2022 but had 3.5 sacks, 10 QB hits, 2 TFL and a forced fumble in limited action (14 games).
Huff is one of those guys who is overlooked but is essential to the defensive pressure. He is a non stop pressure machine in a small body.
I would sign Huff to a two year contract for $6 million, $3 million guaranteed and a $2 million signing bonus. With salaries of year 1) $1 million and 2) $3 million.
Huff is one of those guys you forget about because he plays so little in the base defense. Yet when he plays he makes his presence known because of his ability to rush the QB.
That is a $2 million cap hit in 2023 so I still have $41.5 million of my $64 million remaining.
James Robinson RB
Robinson is a situational back. He is short and stocky with good leg drive. He can be a rotational back in a backfield by committee. He has been used as a bell cow back in Jacksonville with great success. He would be a great insurance policy if a few RBs were to be injured. Robinson is not a spectacular player, but he has value as a every down back who can be your running game for a few weeks. He is a restricted free agent so the Jets have control of him for the following year.
The Jets spent a 6th round pick on him which is no reason to keep him, but he has shown over time that he can be a very important part of a running game.
I would sign Robinson to a $1.1 million fully guaranteed contract with a $100,000 signing bonus. These are the types of contracts that teams look for when they need a quality player instead of some rookie from nowhere state.
This still gives the Jets about $33.4 million in salary cap space.
Zonovan is an exclusive rights free agent which means he is a free agent in name only. He will be signed by the Jets with a near minimum contract.
For the sake of expediency I will sign Zonovan to a 1 year $1 million contract.
This leaves the Jets about $32.4 million in cap space.
Nate Herbig OG
A massive man who can be a great backup if needed.
I would sign him to a minimum contract with a $200,000 signing bonus.
He is only 24 years old so he has some growth in him as a player.
This leaves $31.4 million in cap space.
Jeff Smith WR
I would also sign smith to a minimum contract with a $200,000 signing bonus. Smith has speed and skills which I hope our future OC will see and use to the team’s advantage.
This leaves $30.4 million in cap space.
Mike White QB
It will be up to the new OC to find which players he wants as a QB. I would like White signed but that is not a certainty. I would sign him to a $3million one year contract.
This leaves 27.4 in cap space
Nathan Shepherd DT
Shepherd had a solid season in the Jets defense in 2022. To keep some continuity I would give him a raise with a two year $5 million contract with a $1 million signing bonus. Salaries would be Year 1) $1.5 million 2) 2.5 million
That would leave $25.4 million in cap space
Players fighting for a roster spot
If anyone wanted to give me a 5th round pick I would probably take it although I think Mims (under the right OC) has some untapped potential.
Some of the players not resigned
Dan Feeney OC/OG
Solomon Thomas DT
Another signing from the 49ers team. He was let go for a reason.
Too old and injury prone. He takes away snaps from younger players.
Too unreliable, he had a career year then missed the following year. You can’t have that on the offensive line. He can be somebody else’s problem.
A quality but unspectacular player who can be kept on the roster then used on the practice squad for parts of 2023.
There are other players who are just depth who I wouldn’t bother keeping. These are players who are fringe players. They exist on every roster but are basically practice players.
Another player who can be signed to the practice squad. He is a fan favorite but he has little to offer as a QB. If he was on the active roster you could use him to run QB sneaks so your starter doesn’t get hurt. Otherwise he looks like he is the QB for the University of Nebraska under Tom Osborne back in the 70’s.
He needs to retire. He had a nice career and made a boatload of money for a guy who went to Delaware. One of the “Fightin’ Blue Hens.” Rich Gannon (former league MVP in 2002) is also an alum for Delaware.
The Jets need to sign some difference makers to their roster. This is not a suggestion. It is an imperative for the Jets. They cannot continue to tread water. They need to make a splash.
Again I am not a fan of doling out money, but where it is warranted I have no problem spending the cash. I am only making a single move here since I don’t know who will come out on the market and who won’t. I’m pretty sure the Eagles will not be able to afford Javon Hargraves so I make my pitch for him here.
Hargrave is 30 so he is in the prime of his career. He would work right next to Quinnen Williams so he would have protection against double teams. You can’t block both of them. Added to that Hargraves wouldn’t have to play as many snaps with the Jets rotation system. He is a special talent and would help the Jets defense immensely.
Hargrave played in 713 snaps in 2022. Quinnen Williams played the most by far for the Jets at 690. Sheldon Rankins will still be on the team and he was 2nd highest in snap at only 558. The Jets will also have Nathan Shepherd who quietly had a solid season in 2022. That makes a solid foursome on the interior line for the Jets.
This I think is a no brainer type signing. Hargrave is a player the Eagles won’t be able to afford. Playing along side Quinnen Williams he will be near unblockable. They both are disruptive players.
The Jets have Sauce Gardner (All Pro) who was rated by PFF as the #1 best coverage player in the NFL as a rookie. Michael Carter was rated as # 17 in coverage in the slot, and DJ Reed was rated as #26 in coverage. So the Jets have a great back end so if they get better pressure they can become dominate.
I would sign Javon Hargrave a $75 million 4 year contract with $50 million in guarantees. I would give a $20 million signing bonus to sign because I think this signing is so important. His salaries will be 1) $5 million, 2) $12 million 3) $18 million 4) 20 million. The cap charge in 2023 will be $10 million so the Jets will still have $15.4 million in cap space.
Player trades are difficult in the NFL since you need a team who wants a player and one who is looking to get rid of the same player. These situations do happen, though
The Cardinals are getting ready to reset their roster. Their former coach Kliff Kingsbury is on a beach in Thailand. He signed a 5 year guaranteed contract in 2022 making in the area of $6 million a year. To show you how foolish some owners are (Are you listening, Woody?) Kingsbury had a losing record as their coach over the first 3 seasons. Owner Michael Bidwell stated at the time of his contract extension, “The leadership of both Steve and Kliff have been key factors in the team’s turnaround over the last three seasons, We are all looking forward to continuing that progress and recognize these two individuals will be a big part of achieving our long-term goals as an organization.” The Steve Bidwell mentioned is Steve Keim who stepped down as GM mid year. Kingsbury was fired later that same season.
The Cardinals are looking to unload their All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins who is owed a boatload of money. The interesting part of this is that they can’t trade Hopkins until after June 1st or incur over $33 million in dead money over the next two years. A trade after June 1 would save them over $10 million in dead cap. So a deal for Hopkins that included Draft picks would have to be for picks in 2024.
Hopkins will be 31 this year with a salary of $19.45 million. He is not the receiver he was 4 or 5 years ago, but he is still pretty darn good. The Jets would need to redo his contract that only has 2 years left on it. They could lower the base salary but add on a couple of years to make the contract more reasonable to both parties.
Hopkins has some of the best hands in the NFL. He is a monster to play against. He is tough as nails and he hates to lose. He would be a great player to have in that wide receiver room. He would make our current receivers and any the Jets draft better with his tenacity and his knowledge of the game. Players learn more from respected peers more than any coach. The Tandem of Hopkins and Wilson would be hard to defend. It would also make our other receiving targets better with the attention those two would draw.
The Cardinals would probably take a 2024 3rd round pick to get out from that contract. The Jets would get a star on the field and a voice in the locker room.
There you have it.
My plan for the Jets moving forward this offseason. I will of course regale you with my views on the NFL Draft, but that is for another time. Let me know what you thing and where I am off my rocker; I don’t mind constructive criticism.