It could be one of the biggest offseasons in New York Jets history as the organization not only holds the sixth pick in the 2018 NFL draft but also quite a looming haul heading into free agency in a couple of weeks.
The Jets currently sit on roughly $77 million in free money heading into free agency, so says Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com. That is one of the largest war chests of any team, giving them oodles of flexibility and the chance to overspend to potentially address some glaring needs.
Or simply, it lends them the opportunity to be creative, such as the reports indicating the possibility that quarterback Kirk Cousins might get offered $60 million for his first year of a possible contract. Not many teams can go out there and offer that type of deal to him, let alone have the cap flexibility to do so in the first year.
But the Jets could potentially be over $90 million or perhaps even topping $100 million depending on what cuts they chose to make. Several veteran players and their salaries might be on the chopping block to give the Jets potentially even more money in free agency to make it rain.
Fitzgerald notes that defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson ($11 million saved), running back Matt Forte ($3 million saved), cornerback Buster Skrine ($6 million saved) and offensive lineman James Carpenter ($4.7 million saved) could all possibly impact the Jets should they either restructure or simply they cut the players. The Jets might want to keep one or two of the veterans on the list (which the organization might want to do in the case of Skrine) or simply cut ties (as might be the best option with the disgruntled Wilkerson), all of which could give Cousins – sorry, the Jets – even more money in free agency.
The NFL cap this year is expected to be around $178 million Fitzgerald notes. Fitzgerald is the founder of OverTheCap.com and a noted salary cap expert.
The Jets also might want to retain a couple of key players from last year, such as cornerback Morris Claiborne and linebacker Demario Davis. In particular, Davis, who the argument could be made should have been in the Pro Bowl this year, is likely one to keep and build around. It is a no-brainer given how he is a locker room leader and one of the best inside linebackers in the league.
“Claiborne will probably settle in the $5.5 million per year range,” Fitzgerald said. “Davis I think will be around $4 million.”