Salary cap, free agency and performance issues combine to mean one thing: The New York Jets' starters in 2013 will include many new faces.
Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com summarized many of the personnel issues the Jets face in two recent posts on his Jets blog.
His January 4 post, “Jets’ free-agent class ‘13” evaluated the Jets’ 11 unrestricted free agents and four restricted free agents. Of those 15 players, Cimini concluded that the Jets would keep two: safety Yeremiah Bell and kicker Nick Folk. In 2012, Bell and Folk consumed just over $2 million in cap value.
Other starters and frequently used reserves eligible for free agency include defensive end Mike DeVito, guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson, safety LaRon Landry, tight ends Jeff Cumberland and Dustin Keller, linebacker Bryan Thomas, tackle Austin Howard and running back Shonn Greene. These players represent a combined 2012 cap value of approximately $14.5 million.
Consider that a base amount. Many of these players will garner more. With a projected 2013 cap consumption of around $21 million over the team-adjusted limit of $125 million, how could they get it?
This brings us to the second post.
Cimini’s January 6 post, “Sunday notes: Ryan, Gamble have history,” addressed the consequences of fixing the Jets’ salary cap woes.
In section 6, Cimini writes:
As soon as the waiver period opens in February, the Jets will clear $30.7 million off their salary cap in less time than it takes to hail a cab in New York. They will release LB Calvin Pace ($8.56 million savings), LB Bart Scott ($7.15 million), OT Jason Smith ($12 million) and S Eric Smith ($3 million). Those moves will result in only $4.5 million in dead money. The problem -- and it's a big problem -- is that they will have only 10 starters under contract and not much cap room.
Those cuts reduce the team's 2013 cap consumption to roughly $115 million, $10 million under the cap.
In other words, not all of those free agents will return. It’s time to say goodbye to some old friends.
Bart Scott watches a preseason game against the Eagles.
Bart Scott’s departure will do more than free $7.15 million in cap room. It will soothe the ruffled feathers of many Jets fans.
On Thanksgiving night, after the Jets lost to the Patriots, Scott insulted the athleticism of Jets fans according to New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers: "...The person yelling at you probably was picked last in dodge ball all through high school. So do you care about the opinion of them? No."
Scott’s productivity declined in 2012. He recorded 36 solo tackles, 24 assists and 2.5 sacks. In 2011, Scott recorded 53 tackles, 12 assists, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Demario Davis can replace Scott. In 2012, his rookie year, Davis recorded 22 tackles and four assists.
This bodes well for the Jets’ future.
Calvin Pace reaches for Jacksonville TE Zach Potter.
In 2012, Pace recorded 34 solo tackles, 20 assists, three sacks and a forced fumble. This was significantly less productive than his 2011 season in which he recorded 53 solo tackles, 19 assists, 4.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Pressuring the quarterback is something the Jets’ defense must improve. Obtaining a younger, faster outside linebacker will be a step in the right direction.
The Jets may try to replace Pace through a high draft pick. Both Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com believe the Jets will select an outside linebacker in the first round.
Pouha looks like he's walking a tightrope at the AFC Championship Game against Pittsbutgh.
What if the Jets need more cap space after making the cuts Rich Cimini predicted?
In 2012, Pouha recorded 20 solo tackles, nine assists and a sack. In 2011, he recorded 41 solo tackles, 16 assists, one sack and a forced fumble.
Pouha achieved his 2012 numbers in 12 games. However, his production was roughly half that of 2011 when he played in 16.
Kenrick Ellis appeared in 12 games as the Jets’ nose tackle, starting two. He recorded 11 solo tackles, eight assists and a forced fumble.
If the Jets don’t replace Pouha via the draft or free agency, Ellis could assume the starting role.
Rich Cimini describes Shonn Greene as “a complementary back, not a true No. 1.”
It is true that Greene rushed for 1,063 yards on 276 carries in 2012 and 1,054 yards on 253 carries in 2011. He also added 151 yards on 19 catches in 2012 and 211 yards on 30 catches in 2011.
However, the following factors weigh against him:
- Greene is not a speed back.
- New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg brings a West Coast offense to the Jets.
- This offense calls for a feature back who is both a rushing and receiving threat.
- Greene’s receiving numbers declined in 2012.
The Jets need to obtain a feature running back either through free agency or the draft.
However, they’ll have to find a bargain. Greene’s 2012 salary was $615,000. His cap value: $841,250.
Dustin Keller evades a tackler against Arizona.
I don’t want to be franchised. You want to make sure that you’re going somewhere and you’re signing something that was your decision. You don’t want to be told that you’re doing something for whatever price. You want to make that decision for yourself. You don’t want somebody else making it for you. I would love to come back here, but when I came here, I signed a five-year deal and this is the fifth year on it.
Keller is taking a $5.105 million gamble. That, according to Mehta, is how much the Jets would pay Keller for 2013 were he to accept the franchise tag.
Considering he only appeared in eight games in 2012 because of injury, he has to be considered a risk in the open market.
Jeff Cumberland may not be the target Keller was. However, he accumulated 359 of his 397 career receiving yards in 2012. Cumberland is a restricted free agent this year.
However, even at double his 2012 cap value of $540,000, he would be a relative bargain compared to Keller.
Landry leaves the field during the Seattle game.
Losing LaRon Landry would be unfortunate. Hopefully it is something the Jets can avoid. After all, Landry was one of the Jets’ two Pro Bowl invitees in 2012.
However, Daily News reporter Manish Mehta learned that Landry won’t grant the Jets a “hometown discount.”
According to Mehta:
Half of Landry's 1-year, $3.5 million max value contract was tied up in weekly roster payouts to protect the team in case he suffered an injury. Landry played in only 17 games in the previous two seasons due to a heel/Achilles injury. However, Landry now has the leverage due to his elevated play and a clause in his contract that prevents the Jets from applying the franchise or transition tag in 2013.
Mehta sees Landry more than doubling his salary to “anywhere from $7-9 million per season.” That could consume a significant chunk of cap space, depending on how it’s allocated.
More affordable would be either a free agent willing to play for Landry’s current compensation or a draftee.
The “butt fumble” has nothing to do with Brandon Moore's departure.
It is his age and price.
The Jets have younger, less expensive options at guard. Rich Cimini states that ProFootballFocus.com rates Moore the fourth best guard in football. He had a price tag to match with a 2012 cap value of $4.5 million.
Plus, Moore will turn 34 this year. With the Jets’ current cap situation, it is time for the guards who platooned at left guard last year to go full time.
Since the Jets’ depth chart lists Ducasse as Moore’s backup, he should be able to make the permanent switch to right guard.