When I last did a salary cap update, the Jets had approximately $11m of cap room available, even after accounting for the cost of signing their rookies and without accounting for them using the available $1.5m in exceptions to “borrow” some cap room from future years. Since then, the Jets have signed Chaz Schilens, Drew Stanton, Laron Landry and Scotty McKnight, traded for Tim Tebow and then traded Stanton away.
The effect of these moves is that the Jets should have about $6m of cap room after accounting for the likely cost of rookies, but before accounting for the use of a possible $1.5m exemption, or close to $10m ignoring the cost of rookies and assuming they’ll use that exemption. For a breakdown of the individual moves, click the jump to read more.
Schilens basically got the same contract as Nick Folk – $765,000 over one year. As a minimum salary deal, this qualifies for a cap reduction of $160,000, so the additional cap room required for him to replace a minimum salaried player in the top 51 salaries is just $200,000.
When the Jets signed Stanton for $1.5m, this used up approximately $1.1m of cap room. At this stage, the Jets had between $9m and $10m of cap room after accounting for the net cost of signing rookies.
I’ve been holding off on doing a salary cap update until we had a better idea of what exactly was going on with the Tim Tebow contract. Thanks to some behind-the-scenes investigation from Jason of NYJetsCap.com, we now have a pretty good idea of what his cap charges look like going forward. It’s complicated, but to cut a long story short, when the deal was finalized, the teams worked with the league to find a solution whereby the Jets ended up getting Tebow with a very cap-friendly contract but without screwing the Broncos at the same time. In addition, one effect of the trade appears to be that it reverses some previously earned incentives that were unlocked on the assumption he’d be remaining in Denver, so now he has to meet similar or equivalent incentives as a Jet to re-earn the same salaries he was set to earn if he remained with the Broncos. One final point is that they will be paying him $1m this year and $1.5m next year (as opposed to the other way around, as was widely reported) in settlement of the $5m salary advance that the Broncos contended was due to be returned to them when he left the team.
The bottom line is that his cap charges are much more reasonable than previously feared and – unless he attains performance-based incentives, his cap charges will amount to about $5.5m over the next three years. The performance-based incentives in Tebow’s contract included things like Pro Bowl appearances, rankings in QB ratings lists and winning postseason games in a season where he’d played 70% of the snaps. However, there was also an incentive based on 55% playing time, which he did meet. I would imagine that’s the one he’d have to meet to push those 2013 and 2014 salaries back over $6m per year and if the Jets are true to their word that he’s only going to be used “up to 20 snaps per game” he shouldn’t threaten that unless there’s an injury. Even if he did earn those escalators, the money wouldn’t necessarily be guaranteed.
As well as the news that his contract looks more reasonable going forward, the 2012 salary appears to be just $2.1m which is pretty good value compared to Brad Smith’s $4m per year contract with the Bills, assuming that’s the type of role they have earmarked for him. He’ll also get a roster bonus of just under $500,000.
Laron Landry’s deal was originally reported as being a one-year, $4m deal, with the assumption that this was all base salary. In fact, as we’ve already covered on TJB, this follows a recent pattern of deals being more cap friendly than originally reported. Not only is the contract value only $3.5m, but also half of that money is tied up in weekly roster bonuses that are only paid if he’s on the active 46 man roster – so he won’t get the money in any week where he’s injured. Since Landry played eight games last year, that means only eight of the weekly roster bonuses count against the cap this year, with the rest being treated as not likely to be earned. They’ll get a cap adjustment next year based on how many games he actually played (eg if he played six, they’d get a cap credit equal to two unpaid roster checks, but if he plays 12, the Jets will get an additional cap charge in 2013 equivalent to the four payments that hadn’t already been accounted for on 2012’s cap). The end result is that his cap charge will be $2.6m in 2012. Adding Tebow and Landry’s cap charges to the cap uses up $4.3m of cap room once you’ve removed two minimum salaries from the top 51 to make room for them. This reduced their cap room to about $5.2m after accounting for the cost of rookies.
Trading Drew Stanton
When the Jets completed the Tim Tebow trade, this made Drew Stanton surplus to requirements. Even though they had paid him a $500K signing bonus which they can’t get back and that will count against the cap as dead money, they still made a cap saving by trading him, because his $1m in salary and roster bonus money comes off the books. You need to add a minimum salaried guy back to the top 51, so the net cap saving is $600K, pushing the available cap room back to just under $6m.
Finally, Scotty McKnight will almost certainly have received a non-guaranteed minimum salary contract with no cap consequences. Even if it wasn’t a minimum salary deal, he probably isn’t going to make the team, so this move is of no financial consequence.
With the free agent market seemingly slowing down, it looks like the Jets might be waiting until after the draft to make any more moves. There’s a few guys out there who will need to work out to prove themselves before any teams will give them a contract, including former Jets Braylon Edwards and Jim Leonhard. Additional cap room may also be required if they’re planning to trade up in the draft.
Should they need to create any additional cap room – for example if the right move for a high-salaried player was offered to them in a trade – then the Jets do have some scope to create $5m of room pretty easily, as well as the afore-mentioned $1.5m exemption. I’d imagine that they will leave a buffer of $2-3m for cutdown casualties, in-season waiver claims and potential trades for injury replacements. Don’t forget that any unused cap room can be rolled forward and used next year, where the Jets cap commitments currently don’t appear to be too restricting.
As ever, we will continue to keep you as up-to-date with the cap situation as possible. If you spot any discrepancies or conflicting reports, please let us know and we will update things to keep them as accurate as we can.