The New York Jets Are Among the NFL's Leaders in Players on IR, Cap Money Lost to Injury
A major reason why the New York Jets are 2-7 this year is due to a rash of injuries that is reaching almost epic proportions. Every NFL team loses significant portions of their roster every year to injury but the Jets have seen losses this season that help explain the team’s poor record.
The Jets are tied for the NFL lead with 18 players having spent some time on the Injured Reserve (IR) so far this year. And while that isn’t the be all, end all for determining a team’s success this year (the Seattle Seahawks are 8-2 and also have 18 players this year on IR while the Houston Texans have 16 players on IR this year and are first in the AFC South with a 6-3 record), it surely hits a team like the Jets the hardest when they are in a rebuild. The loss of any established player to the IR can cripple a team that lacks depth.
And perhaps more telling than the sheer number of players on IR for the Jets is what these players represent. The 18 players who have been on IR represent $27,071,159 in cap totals for this season.
That is the third highest cap total lost to injury in the league behind Washington ($41,216,464 and have a 1-8 record) and the Pittsburgh Steelers ($31,433,163 and have a 5-4 record).
The highest paid player on that list for the Jets is linebacker Christian Kirksey, on IR for 15 weeks, whose 2019 cap hit is $7,235,295. Also significant is cornerback Trumaine Johnson, whose cap hit is $5,647,056. The cornerback will be out the remainder of the season with an ankle injury.
This doesn’t make for an excuse for head coach Adam Gase, but it helps explain the Jets season to date. The Jets roster looks nothing like that of the Seahawks, Texans or even the Steelers. A this point in the rebuild, the Jets simply can’t sustain the hit of extended absences on IR like those more established teams are built to endure.
It is difficult when a team loses a significant chunk of its salary cap to injuries, especially when they are impact players or players expected to be a significant part of the two-deep. When it hits a team that is rebuilding and is young, especially a team lacking established stars, then it becomes crippling.
Now the Jets have certainly been no stranger to self-inflicted wounds this year in terms of not just coaching but also roster construction. But the loss of prominent players and significant cap space to injury hasn’t helped the Jets this year to be competitive.
Does this give Gase a free pass on this year? Not necessarily. But it shows that some of what is going on around the team is clearly out of his control.