Analyzing 5 Potential New York Jets Salary Cap Casualties in the 2013 Offseason
Freddie Kreuger isn't as much of a nightmare as the New York Jets salary cap situation is heading into this offseason.
Over the 2013 cap by $19.4 million (via ESPN), the Jets have a lot of work to do in order to get back into plus territory. They'll have to do even more if they want to sign all of their 2013 draft picks.
There could be a lot of turnover (no pun intended, Mark Sanchez) and that goes beyond just the guys that might be cut. Every year, there are decisions to be made, whether it is because a player has under-played his salary or was simply not able to stay healthy long enough to justify the numbers.
There are a few easy moves that the Jets can make to help them get closer to cap stability, and their issues with the salary cap should be the primary concern this offseason.
A "cap casualty" could mean a player being released or his contract being restructured. Either way, the message is the same: the dollars don't make sense, and the Jets need to do something to fix it.
So who are some of the players that the Jets could cut in order to alleviate their cap issues? Here are my thoughts.
All salary information provided by NYJetsCap.com.
LB Calvin Pace
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
2013 Cap Hit: $11,573,335
Dead Money If Cut: $3,013,335
Cap Savings If Cut: $8,560,000
Why He Might Be a Cap Casualty: Pace has never been a dominant presence off the edge, but he's never been quite as invisible as he was in 2012. He ranked 15th out of 20 in terms of 3-4 outside linebackers in ProFootballFocus.com's pass-rushing productivity (minimum 50 percent of the snaps), with three sacks, four hits and 25 pressures on 352 snaps.
This was the lowest grade that he has ever received from PFF since joining the Jets. At 32 years old, it may be safe to say that the best years of Pace's career are in his rearview mirror.
Why He Might Not Be a Cap Casualty: He may not be one of the best outside linebackers in the league, but he may still be one of the best on the Jets current roster. The Jets will have to take a few shots at the board in their endeavor to replace him this offseason.
LB Bart Scott
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
2013 Cap Hit: $8,650,000
Dead Money If Cut: $1,500,000
Cap Savings If Cut: $7,150,000
Why He Might Be a Cap Casualty: The Jets drafted Scott's eventual replacement in Demario Davis in the third round of the 2012 draft. Although it's a bit disconcerting that Davis never earned a heavy workload, you have to think that his youthful athleticism will overtake Scott's talents as a thumper against the run.
He only played 164 snaps in coverage, and as the Jets continue to struggle covering running backs and tight ends, his value to the defense is clearly falling short of his current contractual value.
Why He Might Not Be a Cap Casualty: Scott was the first player Rex Ryan recruited to play for the Jets, and Ryan has built a reputation for struggling to admit when his favorite players aren't playing as well as they should.
He also still has value in run defense, even though he's not a three-down player at this stage of his career.
OT Jason Smith
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
2013 Cap Hit: $12,000,000
Dead Money If Cut: $0
Cap Savings If Cut: $12,000,000
Why He Might Be a Cap Casualty: Cutting Smith would result in zero dead money on a $12 million contract for a stopgap right tackle that is only used in jumbo packages. The decisions don't get much easier than that one.
He only played 53 snaps in pass protection, by far the lowest of any offensive linemen, against 212 snaps as a run-blocker.
Smith played just 265 snaps in total last season, which all but seals his fate as a cap casualty. He is simply not worth the money.
Why He Might Not Be a Cap Casualty: Like many other positions on the roster, the Jets simply don't have a lot of depth on the offensive line to be throwing away former first-round picks.
Plus, he was fairly good in his limited play. They might like for him to restructure his deal instead.
S Eric Smith
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
2013 Cap Hit: $3,000,000
Dead Money If Cut: $0
Cap Savings If Cut: $3,000,000
Why He Might Be a Cap Casualty: Smith's role had increased from 2009 through 2011, but a year after playing a career-high 963 snaps, he dipped all the way to just 329 of them in 2012.
He couldn't beat out LaRon Landry or Yeremiah Bell to earn those snaps, and with those two making around $2.6 million and $1.4 million, respectively, $3 million seems like a bit much to pay for a guy who was little more than a bit-part role player in the secondary last year.
Why He Might Not Be a Cap Casualty: Both Bell and Landry's contracts are up this offseason, meaning Smith may actually be the best option available. If he's to be a starter, the $3 million salary would be much more justifiable. That being said, the level of play he has shown over the past two years may have Idzik leaning toward a restructured contract.
QB Tim Tebow
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
2013 Cap Hit: $2,586,875
Dead Money If Cut: $1,055,000
Cap Savings If Cut: $1,531,875
Why He Might Be a Cap Casualty: Do I really have to explain this?
The West Coast Offense calls for a quarterback with a quick throwing motion who can make quick decisions in the pocket. That just happens to be the antithesis of Tebow.
Do the Jets really want another year of the media madness that is Tebow? My guess is no.
Why He Might Not Be a Cap Casualty: As long as he is helping the Jets to the "best net punting average" they've had under Rex Ryan, it may be hard for them to let go.