2021 vision: This New York Jets offseason is all about setting up for free agency next year

Kristian Dyer

This offseason, the story being told about the New York Jets isn’t just about the multiple issues they took care of so far in free agency. It is about how general manager Joe Douglas has managed to rebuild the roster while providing cap flexibility for next season. 

After addressing the offensive line (five total signings so far including four free agents from outside the organization) and the secondary (Pierre Desir was an underrated signing), the Jets addressed wide receiver on Tuesday with free agent Breshad Perriman on a one-year deal. 

All in all, it has been an active offseason for Douglas. The Jets came into free agency with a number of holes and in his first full offseason with the team, Douglas has addressed these pressing needs with balance and improved quality. 

Most impressive, however, is how Douglas has done that without sacrificing the salary cap. Not just this season, but going into 2021 when the Jets figure to be one of the more active teams in free agency, backed by a lot of cap space. 

The Jets currently have $25 million in salary cap space according to OverTheCap.com. 

“Jets fans may have been expecting more splash signings in this free agency period, particularly following the ratification of a new NFL CBA that provided stability to NFL teams and owners. As Jets fans are well aware, however, there is something of a ‘Winner's Curse’ when it comes to spending big in free agency,” says Brad Spielberger of OverTheCap.com. 

“Joe Douglas and company have instead focused on filling out the roster with more mid-tier signings like bringing back guard Alex Lewis and edge Jordan Jenkins, and picking up cornerback Pierre Desir after he was cut by the [Indianapolis] Colts.  

“The one major signing the Jets have made so far was former Seahawks reserve tackle George Fant at three-years, $27.3 million. However, the Jets can get out of this deal in 2021 with just $2 million in dead money, making it effectively a one-year flier if that is the route they choose to take.” 

The intrigue isn’t just in the quality of the players that Douglas has signed – they are quality, solid players who can contribute and several of whom will start right away. But at the end of the day, this is a rebuild of a rebuild. 

As such, the Jets started last offseason when Douglas was hired after the NFL Draft at the basement in terms of talent and roster depth. This offseason, the Jets went into free agency with a little over $50 million in salary cap space. But next year, they project to have nearly double that amount. 

So Douglas is being wise by not tying up players to long-term deals or hurting his ability to make a bigger splash next offseason. While several of the offensive linemen received multi-year contracts, others signed (or re-signed) by Douglas such as cornerback Brian Poole or the aforementioned Desir and Perriman are all on one-year contracts. 

Prove it, and they will get their payday. 

OverTheCap.com is projecting $215 million salary cap for next year while noting that some reports have indicated a higher actual number. Presently, Spielberger notes, the Jets “have 32 players under contract for 2021 and have $86 million in cap space.” 

More of course can be added should the Jets make releases and cut players on heavy contracts. 

The cap space will dwindle, of course, as the Jets make more free agent signings and add their draft class. But the point is that this year’s offseason is pointing the Jets towards being able to take another step in 2021 to finalize their rebuilding effort. 

“Joe Douglas is biding his time and not forcing the issue, a smart approach for a first year GM. He seems to be focusing more on knocking it out of the park in the NFL Draft, in which the Jets first pick comes at No. 11 overall,” Spielberger said.  

“The Jets will reevaluate after 2020 and reassess their situation with Sam Darnold and others and go from there. This is the luxury of having a GM that does not feel pressure to deliver right away. Jets fans must do their best to exercise patience and trust the process.” 

Comments (2)

They will start delivering now. 6-2 down the stretch is pretty good to me. I know they are not contenders yet, but they are a good team, who have made solid, team-friendly deals this offseason. There are several areas of strength, with a solid defense improved from last year (especially considering Mosley and Williamson are essentially free agents adds to that defense this year), and a rebuilt line on offense. They were watchable down the stretch, aside from the Bengals game, and they will be in the mix for a .500 record this year. Then with $86 million to spend next year to add and fix holes, they will be a playoff contender.

No. 1-2

10 years they've been pushing the fans to exercise patience.. other teams can pull a 180 and actually play well.. at some point when does the team actually deliver???