In many ways the 2023 offseason for the New York Jets can be described as “all in.”
The Jets traded two premier picks for a quarterback who was turning 40 this season, then added multiple players with whom he is comfortable to various deals. Beyond that, they opted to renegotiate the contracts of several players to afford more cap space in the short term in exchange for the cap hits being spread out across multiple years.
The problem with the former was that none of those moves went to plan. Aaron Rodgers was injured and out for the season on the 4th snap of the season. Wide receiver Allen Lazard was a healthy scratch from multiple games despite being the Jets’ biggest free agent acquisition of 2023. The problem with the latter is that not only did the 2023 season fall on its face (in large part due to the issues with the former), but now the Jets will have less cap space available for 2024 and beyond.
BRUTAL!— Paul Andrew Esden Jr (@BoyGreen25) December 31, 2023
The #Jets added dummy years to the contracts of Carl Lawson, Jordan Whitehead, CJ Uzomah, and Duane Brown.
That decision will cost the team $20.2M on the 2024 cap, per Rich Cimini of ESPN. Regardless of whether they are on the team or not.
That is the cost of trying… pic.twitter.com/Wizhf1pbGh
Due to just the four moves mentioned here, the Jets will have $20.2 million less in cap space than they otherwise would have. For reference of how much can be done with $20.2 million in cap space: the Jets second and third highest cap hits on the 2023 roster were guard Laken Tomlinson and quarterback Zach Wilson... and combined their cap hits were less than $20.2 million. Pick any two players on the roster other than linebacker C.J. Mosley and their combined cap hits will be less than $20.2 million.
Another way to think of this is the estimated 2024 NFL salary cap is expected to be somewhere north of $240 million. If we assume that the number ends up being even a high end number like $250 million, then that would mean this $20.2 million amount will likely end up being worth about 8% of the total salary cap.
To say it is not ideal to spend 8% of the total salary cap on players who at best provide little value and at worst will not be on the team at all is to put it lightly. In all likelihood, this will be a hindrance for a team with numerous holes across the roster that could surely have used some additional reinforcements. As fans, we just have to hope the Jets braintrust finds a way to operate around it to turn this team around quickly.