When it comes to signing free agents in 2013, the Jets' new GM had better be a superb bargain hunter.
Factor in a $4 million rollover from 2012, and the Jets need to trim $22 million to achieve compliance.
Rich Cimini of ESPNnewyork.com believes that the Jets will trim $30.7 million by cutting the following players at the start of February's waiver period: linebackers Calvin Pace and Bart Scott, safety Eric Smith and tackle Jason Smith.
That would give the Jets roughly $8.7 million with which to accomplish the following goals:
- Allocate approximately $5 million to a rookie cap
- Re-sign players from the 2012 roster who are eligible for free agency, such as safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell
- Pursue free agents
Cimini concludes, "The problem -- and it's a big problem -- is that they [the Jets] will have only 10 starters under contract and not much cap room."
In other words, both quality and quantity are significant factors as the Jets plan their 2013 player acquisition strategy.
This has the following implications for free agent signings:
- Expect more efforts to save cap room. Releasing Sione Pouha and Tim Tebow would save over $5 million more. Alternatively, the Jets could restructure contracts with large base salaries, like those of Pouha, Nick Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Santonio Holmes and Darrelle Revis to allocate more money over multiple years.
- Don't expect big-name acquisitions. Quarterback Joe Flacco will not wear a Jets' uniform next year. The "big names" you might see are former stars trying to make a comeback at a bargain basement price.
- Expect players whose value has declined because of injury or a subpar season. I'd count Michael Vick in this category, but he probably wouldn't come here if Mark Sanchez remains. I expect cap considerations to force Sanchez's retention.
- Expect "projects," players who must return to top form or achieve unfulfilled potential to contribute. Aaron Maybin is an example. If only he had maintained his 6-sack, 4-forced fumble performance of 2011 in 2012.
- Expect short-term contracts for the minimum base salary or close to it. The NFL's rigid salary cap may force the Jets to avoid large, long-term contracts until their cap structure is sound.
To succeed in 2013, the Jets will need to become a team whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. They do not have available funds to pursue blue-chip talent, so their GM will have to scour the bargain basements of the football world for overlooked gems.
Maybe they'll consider the recommendations on the following slides.