After cutting Trumaine Johnson on Monday, the New York Jets are looking at a vastly different salary cap position heading into the summer. It is a posture that affords them flexibility in 2020 and moving forward.
Johnson, who was a disappointment since signing with the Jets two years ago, was officially released from the team this week. The move cleared out cap space, with Johnson counting $4 million against the salary cap this season and $8 million next season.
OverTheCap.com has the Jets currently around $25 million in salary cap space. That is enough for general manager Joe Douglas to sign the rest of the rookie class while continuing to address free agency needs and issues. The Jets already signed their fifth round pick, cornerback Bryce Hall on Monday
In recent weeks, the Jets have been linked in free agency to the likes of cornerback Logan Ryan, who had a tremendous season last year for the Tennessee Titans. There also have been the usual whispers about bringing in a player such as Jadeveon Clowney, a defensive end who would substantially upgrade the pass rush. But so far, Douglas hasn’t splashed cash just for the sake of it.
He’s pragmatic and also realistic. And of course there are needs internally, including safety Jamal Adams, who has made it clear that he wants to be paid as the top safety in the NFL.
“Joe Douglas has continued his patient approach to building out the rest of the roster in free agency. He is clearly putting an emphasis on establishing a better culture, with the Frank Gore signing a perfect example,” said Brad Spielberger of OverTheCap.com.
“As for higher priced free agents, Douglas refuses to be rushed to a decision or pay too much when not necessary. The ongoing negotiations with Logan Ryan paint the picture of a GM that is operating on his own terms. If the price is right, Douglas will seal the deal. If not, Douglas will stick to his guns and look elsewhere. This is a rock solid precedent to start off your GM career with. Agents and players will no longer look at the Jets as a mark, and will understand that the new regime is not to be trifled with.”
Where this puts the Jets in 2020, able to still upgrade the team with a signing or two, is a definite positive for a two-deep that is already vastly different in just one year under Douglas.
There also is the possibility for the Jets to carry over much of this $25 million and go a bit crazy next offseason, signing players to get over the hump and into the playoff picture. Since that money can be carried over, it might be ideal to do so in 2021 when the team will be closer to finishing rebuilding and more will known about the development of this team’s young players and rookie draft class.
It seems clear, however, that despite the cap space, Douglas isn’t going to be pressured into making signings. And he certainly won’t sign a big name just because the player is available. He certainly hasn’t chased the big names in free agency to date.
Instead, as Spielberger noted, the price has to match the value. So far, Douglas has stuck to that philosophy, although at some point he will need to invest in stars and difference makers to get this team over the hump and into the playoffs.
Spielberger of OverTheCap.com is a salary cap analyst who wrote the book The Drafting Stage: Creating a Marketplace for NFL Draft Picks.