The New York Jets were mildly active in free agency this year. We cautioned this would be a likely approach this off-season, with the team’s decision making geared more towards 2014 than 2013. Every contract the team handed out was to a player with question marks surrounding them, generally based around health or a limited role in the past. In most cases, the valuation of contracts handed out by the team basically breaks down to being a one year tryout to see if the player merits an investment moving forward. A knee jerk reaction to David Garrard’s retirement and Mike Goodson’s legal issues is saying “New Jets GM John Idzik is 0-2 in free agency…Jets Circus continues.” That is a fun headline that is easy to crack a joke about on Twitter but like most work we see from the Jets beat and certain national writers takes into account minimal research and understanding of the team’s situation.
David Garrard’s signing was a low-level risk from the outset. A worthwhile risk for a team with limited options and flexibility at quarterback. If you were banking too many hopes on a 35 year old who hasn’t played a snap in 2 years and missed all of last season with a knee injury, you were kidding yourself. It is fair to argue that it would have been much more of a surprise if Garrard made it through training camp healthy than if his knee acted up and forced retirement, which is exactly what happened. At most, the Jets lost a $100,000 bonus this year on Garrard and not a cent towards 2014.
Mike Goodson had durability concerns and minor off the field issues before coming to New York. He was expected to thrive with a larger role. We don’t know how his legal situation is going to play out yet. There is a very real chance he could still end up playing for the team this year and playing out his contract, while there is also a chance the Jets end up just cutting him this summer. If the Jets do cut him after June 1st, here is their financial loss explained by Joel Corry of the National Football Post
Mike Goodson received a $1M signing bonus with his three-year deal from the Jets averaging $2M per year. His signing bonus is prorated over the life of the contract. It counts as $333,333 on the Jets’ cap in both ’13 & ’14. $333,334 counts in ’15.
If the Jets release Goodson after June 1st, his ’13 cap number drops from $1,333,333 to $333,333. The Jets wouldn’t be paying Goodson’s $1M base salary so the only charge would be his ’13 signing bonus proration. Goodson’s proration from his ’14 & ’15 contract years would count at $666,667 on the Jets’ cap in ’14. There wouldn’t be any cap charge for Goodson in ’15.
Pennies. That’d be the financial loss the Jets take if they cut Goodson and that doesn’t even take into account the possibility of them recouping their money if the NFL takes action Goodson.
The point is that you need to remember how the Jets are setting themselves up for 2014 and beyond. When the team moves on from Mark Sanchez and potentially Santonio Holmes, they could be looking at 40-50 million in cap space next year, as explained here by our friends at NY Jets Cap. Look at the Jets cap numbers currently for 2014 and 2015…there will be immense flexibility in the future. Beyond that, the Jets are going to have 12 Draft Picks next year. Their original seven selections, an additional third rounder from the Darrelle Revis trade and four compensatory picks. Yes, you should expect the Jets to receive that many picks considering their losses in free agency of LaRon Landry, Dustin Keller, Mike DeVito, Yeremiah Bell, Shonn Greene, and Matt Slauson.
It is about the big picture. Not a quick one year fix. The Jets are obviously hoping players like Willie Colon, Antwan Barnes, Antonio Garay and Stephen Peterman can bring something this season and show merit for a longer, more substantial commitment but if they can’t? It won’t be a major financial issue to let them all walk.