Eight Days of Yelling – New York Jets Free Agency Approach

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We are over one week into free agency. The New York Jets have taken an approach so far that should not be overly surprising. However, there has been a relatively harsh reaction from some segments of the fan-base and certain predictable media outlets. What should we make of John Idzik and the 2014 offseason thus far?

Let’s start by quickly recapping what has occurred. The Jets allowed Austin Howard to walk in free agency and replaced him with Breno Giacomini. On the field, they are comparable players. For the Jets, an edge would go to Howard since continuity is always preferred, particularly on the offensive line. Yet, the Jets did get Giacomini at roughly half the price. This was a somewhat surprising and disappointing move but the on-field difference at the right tackle position is not likely to be very noticeable. If Giacomini matches Howard’s level of play from 2013 and the Jets are getting him for the half the money, who is going to complain?

The biggest splash was made at wide receiver. Coming into the offseason, the Jets had the NFL’s worst wide receiver group. They successfully added arguably the best overall free agent at the position and certainly the most accomplished at a very fair rate. Eric Decker immediately substantially upgrades a major weakness and provides a necessary tool for second year quarterback Geno Smith. Another reason he was targeted? Check out these charts:

Idzik has also retained a handful of the Jets own free agents. He got Jeff Cumberland back on a low cost deal. He is an average player at best but at a minimum provides competent depth and should be more productive with better receivers on the outside of him. It was a pleasant surprise that he brought defensive lineman Legar Douzable back on a one year deal, who became a key part of the defensive line rotation by season’s end. Nick Folk and Calvin Pace were both expected to return and they have on new contracts that are fair market value to their production in 2013.

In the coming days, the Jets are expected to make a push to bring Willie Colon back and will have Mike Vick in for a visit. They are also being linked to potential rumors for a DeSean Jackson trade and considered a favorite to sign Antonio Cromartie, which was a move many expected before the offseason started.

The expectation of a highly aggressive approach was misplaced. You didn’t have to dig deep to find that the Jets plan under Idzik is to primarily build through the NFL Draft and use free agency only as a supplement to their picks. Last offseason, the decision to let many middling free agents walk off the roster (LaRon Landry, Shonn Greene, and Dustin Keller for example) has likely equated to 3-4 compensatory selections this April. The unworkable situation with Darrelle Revis added an additional fourth round pick. Idzik isn’t John Schneider but it is fair to assume he learned under him to build primarily through the NFL Draft and a handful of trades. Go look at the Seahawks current roster and see how many current starters and prominent players were free agent signings.

Much of the frustration is stemming from unsourced reports that the Jets were going to be super aggressive in free agency. The reality of many of these reports is that they are based on assumptions, not any concrete information. Since taking over, the Jets have locked down information about their plans. The only information that gets out is from player’s agents, so when a certain writer says eleven times throughout the offseason the Jets are interested in Emmanuel Sanders, it is from Sanders’ agent, not from the team.

Look at this way. A beat writer who had the ability to break stories under Mike Tannenabum has since been locked out under the new regime. It is a frustrating reality and it now requires offseason transaction articles to be based on educated guesses and agent leaks. Our website deals with this also, as you can see by the roughly 50% accuracy of our predictions a few weeks back before the league year started.

The problem is when a mainstream media outlet continuously beats the drum that the Jets are going to be super aggressive  and keeps throwing out players that there was never that high level of an interest in. It creates expectations that shouldn’t be there. The Jets have very publicly said they would be “judicious” in free agency. In eight days, they have signed two outside free agents and brought back four of their own players while losing one starter. It sounds judicious to me.

Is frustration understandable? Sure. The Jets still have plenty of money burning a hole in their pocket and many needs on both sides of the football. However, the offseason doesn’t have a magical cut off date 8 days after the league year starts. The roster is going to be tweaked all the way up to and through week one, via signings, waiver claims, draft picks and trades. If you think the roster in the middle of March is going to resemble the roster in September, you are probably mistaken. Every draft pick the Jets have is an asset that can be used to select a player, as a component of a trade or as motivation to avoid overpaying certain players.

At this time last year, the following key contributors to the 2013 roster were not yet on the team: Dawan Landry, Sheldon Richardson, Geno Smith, Dee Milliner, David Nelson, Chris Ivory, Antwan Barnes (while healthy), Brian Winters, Leger Douzable, Mike Goodson (showed flashes before getting hurt and expected to be contributor in 2014). The cap situation is different this year but the point is the Jets will continue to tweak their roster in the coming months. It is simply way…way too early to grade Idzik’s performance this offseason.

One final thing about cap space. Remember the Jets will have contracts to hand out to Muhammad WIlkerson, Jeremy Kerley and Damon Harrison next offseason. The year after they will need to likely pay Quinton Coples and Antonio Allen if they keep developing, along with Chris Ivory if they want to stay with him at running back. Finally, the year after they could be gearing up to pay big contracts to Sheldon Richardson, Dee Milliner and Geno Smith. You want to keep that amazing defensive line together for the next 5-7 years? You better have some cap flexibility.

There are still moves to be made Jets fans. Let’s give this front office a little time to full work an entire offseason plan…not just eight days.

  • Big Al

    terrific job and anytime that unnamed source from that unnamed periodical gets bitch slapped,, i am all for it!!!

  • Worldboy90

    Qucik question Joe. What’s your take on current depth? If an injury happens at Guard, WR, OLB, CB, or TE I feel like we are precariously thin at the position. I understand the draft, but do you really want a 5th-7th rounder stepping in if Decker, Milliner, Kerley, or Coples goes down? As for TE and Guard, I could argue those three spots are almost entirely vacant or very shaky to begin with al-together. Winters “might” improve, but he should have a back-up if he doesn’t, and the other spot is empty. Same thing for Milliner; a walls-lankster starting CB duo sounds bottom 5 in the league.

    Would you disagree that even “money-pinching” teams use FA to atleast build cheap depth in area of needs with prove-it deals or past their prime vets? It’s not that I hate the moves Idzik has done, but his inactivity to build depth has been most worrisome, (not to mention I disagree with his approach of not stealing talent from other teams to build around). Rounds 1-4 in the draft should net us potential starters, but rookies are shaky; thats what you have cheap vets like pace for.

    Thoughts?

  • Neil Herschkowitz

    Insightful,accurate assessment of free agency and team building. No hysteria, propaganda or spinning of facts. The actual truth simply and factually stated.

    How refreshing.

  • Zeb

    Joe nice recap..I don’t think there should be much worry about resigning those young players though. First, the team can simply choose the 5th year option. Only Milliner is a top 10 pick, every other player’s 5th year option would be the average of the top 25 players, at their position, and buy the NYJ further time to extend them. We also need to remember the cap is going to continue to rise in the year’s ahead.

    I agree that jumping to conclusions, today, isn’t right. But, last year and this year are 2 very different situations. Last year, the team had almost no cap flexibility, so D Landry and Barnes were likely as much about what they could spend, as they were about what they would want. The same could be said about Nelson who they got off the scrap heap, but came in and did a solid job.

    Hopefully the team has some creative moves coming.

  • Joe Caporoso

    Thanks for reading everybody!

    Big Al – Thanks for the kind words!

    Worldboy – Depth is still a concern. Along with many other spots the roster. I feel better about OG now that Colon is officially back. My guess is the Jets are confident in the long term potential of Campbell, Aboushi, Ijalana and maybe even Schlauderaff since they stuck around roster all of last year. CB, the team may be more confident in Walls than we think they are (and we were big fans of his play last year) but similar to you, I’d feel much better if Cromartie was brought back. TE, I’d keep an eye on for an addition in the summer after veteran cuts and Ebron or Amaro are very much in play at 18.

    The Jets definitely need to make more moves to fill out their roster. It is just may become later in the league year via draft weekend trades, veteran cuts and waiver pickups.

    Neil – Thanks!!

    Zeb – That is a really good point. The 5th year option does give NYJ some flexibility, as we are seeing this offseason with Wilkerson

  • KAsh

    @WB90

    Nobody gives a one-year “prove it” contract to a player for depth. The only one-year contract for over $1 million that was given to a backup player was $1.25 million to Tarvaris Jackson. Some other one-year signings: BJ Raji, Hakeem Nicks, Tarell Brown, Brandon Spikes, Walter Thurmond, Louis Delmas, Darren McFadden, Darryl Sharpton. All of them are going to start. There is no point in a player signing a one-year contract unless he is committed to being a backup and signs for something close to the veteran minimum or he is almost guaranteed to start and show what he can do. But in the latter case, you will have a problem with continuity when that player leaves next year (which he will if he came anywhere close to having a good year).

    Also, Idzik is said to be reluctant to sign past their prime vets as they either get injured or take reps away from rising players.

    As for the current depth chart, where have you been the past four years? We have operated with no depth at any position for many years now, because our GM gave away picks and threw away money like a drunken sailor. Because of the salary cap, most teams cannot have good players as their backups. And because of limited reps, most backups are a question mark. If Richard Sherman gets injured, who is going to replace him? Yet I am sure that the Seahawks do have somebody, even though he is not as good as Sherman.

  • Steve

    EXACTLY…. Reading my mind…

    We should keep a running list of jets fans Losing their minds right now b/c I guarantee you no one will own up to it….

    Never Forget the #fireidzik crazies!!!!

  • LeeBur

    @RichCimini 4m
    The Jets have re-worked Mike Goodson’s deal, lowering cap charge from $1.9M to $1.28M. Appears to be a restructuring of $650k roster bonus.

    Every dollar counts…

  • Pingback: Today’s Jets Twit Directory Links March 19, 2014 | New York Jets Online Directory()

  • Worldboy90

    I still say fire idzik based on what I expect to happen over the next two years; If I’m wrong I’ll eat crow, if I’m right I’m going to lose alot of interest in the Jets, so I perform the former. N Kash, what about Dawan Landry, Willie Colon, Calvin Pace? Three vets past their prime but filling nessecary holes; if someone younger starts good, if not then whatever. Also everyone keeps talking about our key players like idzik acquired them. Coples, Wilkerson, Harrison, D.Davis D.Harris, AA, Kerley, Brick, Mangold where all tannebaum-rex era pick ups. As for Idzik he got milliner, regarded as the best corner of that draft after trading the best corner of the decade (so woopty-do), struck a hr with Richardson, and otherwise nothing special. Dawan Landry was oridnary, Colons was ordinary (and injury prone / aging, but I’m ok with that for this year), and the rest of the draft hasn’t proven anything yet. Yeah Ivory “might” pan out, but T-Jones was a far better acquisition when it happened, and we had better speed depth with Leon. Tjones + Leaon in their primes are far better than Ivory and Goodson.

    As for past four years, we had sufficient depth for two afc champ games. You may forget but Tannebaum always looked for bargain veterans like LT, that one baltimore DE jason taylor, etc. That’s smart gm’ing. He just really messed up bad on the Tebow debacle mixed in with an inability to sustain WR acquisitions. Lest you forget his first moves on the job were getting Braylon and Tone, two WR’s in top 25 conversations at the time. For pennies on the dollar; as well as Cro for Pennies on the dollar.

    So again, not making bad decisions does not make you a bad gm if you fail to make any good ones. Yes I’d say a team is roughly based on 60% Draft, 30% FA and 10% trades when it comes to building the team, but we are ignoring a third of the process more or less. Yes Joe mentioned we have guys to lock up, but seriously outside of Wilkerson, (who Idzik is being stingy on), whose gonna cost us an arm and a leg? Kerley will probably get a cheaper deal than edelman, Coples hasn’t proven anything sustainable yet, Harrison will be lucky to get above-average dt money cuz he’s a household name, and AA / D-davis aren’t exactly pro-bowl level talent just yet. They’re good; but not great. That with the cap to significantly rise, also with the expected pay cuts of brick / mangold in the next 1-3 years, its silly to assume we have some kind of cap Armageddon to deal with if we happened to sign a Byrd/Revis/Ward/Verner level of talent.

    If anything, idzik did nothing special with Decker. Paid fair market value for a FA reciever in an area of extreme need. He didn’t pick up an under-valued asset; just managed to make one good purchase on the open market; nothing exactly flashy. Same thing with Ivory- so far his production only warrants a fourth rounder and his salary. Hell if a fourth rounder had Ivories season last year no-one would of really blinked imho.

  • Frank Antonelli

    Worldboy90. You are the worst sort of troll. Fire Idzik??? How about we fire your ass clown.

  • Joe Caporoso

    Let’s keep it respectful folks…we are all Jets fans here.

  • Mark Phelan

    Frank – It really annoys me how you personally criticize other responders. Just who do you think you are? Mark

  • JetOrange

    @Steve
    Confess , I’m one of those Jet fans who has lost his mind. This article has been like therapy, if Cro returns there is a possibility of a modest recovery.. (Willie’s back, reduces my anxiety )…Optimism returns when looking at the depth of this years draft with 12 picks. There are about ten teams that have 8 million or less currently in Cap room. That’s not critical, but their ability to maneuver is limited, they are: Carolina, Washington,Dallas, Kansas City, SF, Chicago, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Detroit and the Saints. Look for these teams to dump quality players. The Bears are dumping Earl Bennett who at 26 is four years younger than James Jones, IMHO almost comparable players. Kindly, also consider that Idzik traded a fourth round pick for a player (Ivory) last year. There is more trading than ever before in the NFL, so my optimism is beginning to come back, I do need Cro back, yesterday. John please don’t grind every nickel out of Cro, he has kids, a lot of them.

  • Worldboy90

    @Frank

    Thanks for the comment guy. Always insightful stuff from you; how do you come up with such thought-provoking ideas anyways? Your parents must be proud ;). (I’d say wife/gf but that seems like a long shot).

    And

    @JetOrange

    I used to deliver to Earl Bennett 3-4 years ago; really cool dude and always had awesome kicks lol. But coming from chicago dudes a JAG; a la another David Nelson. But cool dude and good tipper, so I’d be happy if they signed him.

  • Frank Antonelli

    Worldboy90. You want some insightful stuff then read this, however I doubt you’re capable of understanding any of it!

    Every successful team can pick out a few key signings. Which is why Decker and Giacommini are nothing to spit at. Those are good signings. So was the trade for Chris Ivory. But you don’t just say “We have needs/wants at 8 positions. We’ll fill those with 6 or 7 free agents and call it a day” like the Browns or Raiders are doing. They’re trying to win with other people’s players because they failed so miserably at drafting their own talent.

    Look at the Seahawks starters and you tell me if it looks like the type of roster Idzik is looking to build:
    [NOTE: For our purposes, I am assuming Sidney Rice is headed elsewhere. If he doesn't, he takes Lockette's spot on the depth chart]

    QB: Russell Wilson (3rd round pick)
    RB: Marshawn Lynch (trade: 2011 4th round pick, 2012 conditional pick)
    WR: Doug Baldwin (UDFA)
    WR: Percy Harvin (trade: 1st and 7th rounder)
    WR: Ricardo Lockette (UDFA)
    TE: Zach Miller (Signed 2011 to 5-year deal)
    LT: Russell Okung (Top 10 pick)
    LG: James Carpenter (1st rounder)
    C: Max Unger (2nd rounder)
    RG: JR Sweezy (7th rounder)
    RT: Michael Bowie (7th rounder)

    LDE: Michael Bennett (UDFA)
    DT: Brandon Mebane (3rd rounder)
    DT: Tony McDaniel (UDFA, bounced between Jaguars and Dolphins, signed in 2013)
    RDE: Cliff Avrill (Signed as RFA in 2011)
    OLB: Malcolm Smith (7th rounder)
    MLB: Bobby Wagner (2nd rounder)
    OLB: Bruce Irvin (1st rounder)
    CB: Richard Sherman (5th rounder)
    CB: Byron Maxwell (6th rounder)
    FS: Earl Thomas (1st rounder)
    SS: Kam Chancellor (5th rounder)

    Of all Seattle’s starters on offense, only 1, Zach Miller, was a free agent signing. Much like the Jets traded a 4th rounder for Chris Ivory, the Seahawks did the same to get Marshawn Lynch. Harvin was a pickup via trade as well, but his health has prevented him from making any impact on a team that won the Super Bowl largely without him.
    Of their starters on defense, only one, Cliff Avrill, was a significant free agent signing. McDaniel was a scrap-heap pickup that worked out. The rest they found via the draft.

    The Seahawks entire back 7 was found via the draft. Their entire offensive line was drafted. That’s impressive stuff. You cannot even come close to arguing that this Seattle roster depended on free agents. They depend on the draft. Period.
    If the Seahawks are the model we’re looking to duplicate, Idzik is right on target so far. He’s accumulating talent via the draft, filling a few needs where he can via free agency. This is how you build a winner.

  • Zeb

    I may be in the minority here, but if they’re signing guys like Jacoby Ford or Earl Bennett, 4-5yr guys who’ve never really showed much, I don’t see that as positive. I’d much rather them draft and play young guys.

    How does everyone feel about the Desean Jackson talk? He’s a huge improvement over anything we have, but also seems to contradict what Idzik is trying to do. I have to think, ala Percy Harvin, any trade would come with the caveat of a new huge guarantee, which would be significantly more than anything Idzik has given out.

    In the end, if it works he’ll be canonized. If it doesn’t even his most ardent supporters will be calling for his head, much like they did with Mike T.

  • LeeBur

    Joe- would it be possible to see an article with potential trade targets for the Jets? Guys who are buried on the depth chart (like Ivory 2 years ago) but have shown something in their limited playing time? How would this “player” fit in our system? Just a thought since trade talk seems to come up consistently.

  • Joe Caporoso

    I think that is a really good idea for an article LeeBur, going to kick it around with our staff and see if we can get it done in the next week or so. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Zeb – Personally, if it would take only a 3rd or 4th round pick as is being rumored, I’d be in favor of it. The Jets have the room for such a move and Jackson could immediately step in at Z for them and provide an enormous playmaker. The Jets will have then successfully added two top 25 NFL WRs and the top 2 ranked deep ball WRs in the NFL in one offseason (when Geno thrives on the deep ball)

    Sign me up

  • Worldboy90

    @Frank

    You copy and pasted that from a different blog. And I’m going to argue they absolutely caught lighting in a bottle 3-5 times where they found their pro-bowl secondary in the bottom rounds, and a franchize QB in the third. Lightning in a bottle; the odds of another team replicating that are slim to none. If your plan is that your expecting to find 3-5 pro-bowl caliber players over a 2-4 year span in rounds 5-7 your gambling on some awful odds my friends.

    Boom.

  • Zeb

    Frank..interesting post..and it certainly worked for Seattle, this year.

    Seattle deserves all the credit, for their drafting, but what’s really been the key is drafting all those great players in the 3rd round, and beyond.
    Okung and Carpenter aren’t 1st round busts, but they’re average, at best players. IU also think Irvin hasn’t proven a worth 1st rounder. Michael Bennett was actually a UFA signee, from TB, last year (Seattle actually released him after signing him). Avril was a 2013 UFA. Harvin was a trade, but it was with the understanding he’d get a big contract.

    I think this Seattle team is more an anomaly. I don’t think you can’t count on buidling your team solely through the draft, especially when a number of your first round picks come up average. There are many examples of late round guys being missed and having great careers, but I don’t believe that is a strategy an organization can rely on year after year.

  • Mike Z

    Joe – I appreciate your analysis and agree with much of it. I find you are the voice of reason in a sea of BS. I am with you with the main stream media. They sensationalize everything and half of what they are writing has no truth to it. But Joe, last year we didn’t have this Cap space. It was a mistake not to have signed one of the 4-5k top tier FA CB’s. I cannot see how you believe that if we get back Cro that we are fine. Not signing an established veteran TE FA to stabilize a position that has been a glaring weakness for many years was a mistake. The odds of us getting one of the to two TE’s in the draft is remote and even if we did there is no guarantee that they will make an impact in year one. This mistake can be lessened if they pick up Owen Daniel or Ed Dickson but will they?? I could argue that not adding depth at safety and OL were critical too but I will leave it there. I believe Idzik has a plan and may very well prove to be a successful GM but he did make a few key mistakes over the last week plus and I think I may speak for many of us who follow you regularly that to only give credit but not show mistakes can be frustrating. I’m a loyal reader and look forward to hearing from you.

  • Joe Caporoso

    I will say if the Jets go into week 1 with a CB depth chart of Walls – Milliner – Wilson – Lankster – Patrick and a TE depth chart of Cumberland – Sudefeld – Pantale, and Sanchez as the backup QB, that Idzik did poor work at those positions this offseason

  • Frank Antonelli

    Zeb. Seattle is just the latest example. The Steelers have been doing this for years with great results. It’s amazing that the Jets are finally operating like a mature disciplined front office and some are still asking to go back to the Tanny days. Those days are behind us and good riddance.

  • LeeBur

    Great article. Talks about how the Jets will be required to spend big in 2015-2016. And the ramifications if they dont spend the money………..

    http://www.ganggreennation.com/2014/3/19/5525588/ny-jets-show-me-the-benjamins

  • Dan in RI

    Patience, everyone. Like everyone else, I would have loved to see them sign Byrd or Ward at safety. And I am nervous about the CB situation–I wish they’d just bring Cro back already. But it is still very early. Idzik will not repeat Tannenbaum’s mistake of overpaying for players–either in FA or in the draft (trading up for players that don’t pan out, or were not better than other players who were available at that draft spot). Give the guy time and let’s see what happens. The team was better than expected last year. And if Geno and Milliner continue to develop, they will be better than expected this year, too. (Of course, that’s a big “if”).

  • Zeb

    Frank,

    I think the key component to any of those situations is finding a franchise level QB. In today’s NFL, that immediately gives you a chance to win.

    I fully agree that building through the draft is the preferred way to do this because it allows you to most effectively manage your money. I think history, since the inception of the salary cap, illustrates drafting, even with all the film watching and advanced scouting metrics is very hard, and every team is going to make a mistake. I mean just look at Seattle’s team. Other than Earl Thomas, this team was unable to pick another All Pro.

    Fans ultimately only care about winning. If the Tannenbaum teams had gotten to a Super Bowl, I think he’d be viewed differently. Just look at the NYG, who only have 3 playoff appearances since ’07, but 2 of them have been Super Bowls. I’m not going to fully judge Idzik yet. But, just because a guy has a plan, that looks totally opposite than the previous guy had, it doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed success.

  • Hillel

    I don’t even read the mainstream stories on the Jets anymore. They are mostly clueless.

  • KAsh

    @WB90

    First, I do not know why you assume the cap will continue to rise in the following years. The cap hovered around $120 million for five years. It was $123 million in 2009 before being suspended in 2010, then actually dropping to $120 million for two years, and finally returning to $123 million last year. It finally increases by $10 million six years after its last substantial increase (of $7 million) and people start to think the sky has no limit.

    Next, Idzik uses old veterans as a short-term, last case scenario. Your list should also include players like Garay, Peterman, Obomanu, and Braylon Edwards. All were projected starters and important role players heading into training camp last year. Landry, Pace, and Colon are the only ones that survived. Obomanu and Edwards got outplayed by younger receivers in training camp. Peterman was beaten out by Ducasse of all people. Garay was supposed to either backup or start in case Ellis was unable to (Ellis was coming off a season-ending injury), but Harrison beat out both to the starting job and Ellis showed enough to make Garay expendable. Pace, Landry, and Colon are going into camp, but there are no guarantees they make it out. Pace is probably the most secure (which is why he is the only one that is signed through 2015) as it takes time to learn all the intricacies of the role. The only way Pace becomes expendable is from something out of left field, like Tim Fugger or Jermaine Cunningham showing they are ready to start and lock down the position for the next few years. Landry knows the system, but he is a place-holder for Bush, Miles, or a draft pick. (He might stay if it is the draft pick that beats him out.) Colon might be beat by any of the young guys waiting in the wings and then he will likely be on the waiver wire.

    This is another point that is not made about free agency: all top free agents want to be guaranteed a starting spot and do not want to hear that a rising backup or a rookie draft pick can bump them down the roster. Competition does not mesh well with free agents (as we saw when Vick went looking at other options when we would not hand him the starting job).

  • Steve Windeler

    That’s right. Signing 4,5 year guys who have not broken out does not come with the guarantees that the “premium” FAs do. If we sign someone like Jacoby Ford with a 200k signing bonus there is no risk. Those guys can be cut if they show nothing in camp, or they can be cut and brought back for week 2.

  • David

    Quite honestly, I am tired of hearing the whole “competition” thing when it comes to the NY Jets. Does anyone think Muhammad Wilkerson is going to have to “compete” for his job? Or Sheldon Richardson? Or D’Brickashaw Ferguson? I would go so far to say that over 80-85% of the Jets starters are already set.

    When I hear the word “competition” what that tells me is, “We really don’t have anyone we like at a particular position and we are hoping that someone will ‘breakout from the pack’ and become a starter.”

  • Lidman

    KAsh,

    It’s not a question of how much the salary cap will rise, it’s by how much. The player’s are guaranteed a floor of 47% of the prior year’s revenue. Now, the simplest explanation would be the NFL had higher revenues, than expected, last year. If this is the case, then we should expect the cap to go much higher the next few years. Remember, the new TV money wasn’t scheduled to begin flowing through, to the salary cap, until next year. Add to this, CBS’ purchase of 8 Thursday night games, this year, which will immediately increase the cap next year. Further, If the NFL expands to 14 playoff teams, in 2015, those extra 2 nationally televised playoff games will also be out for the bid, and flow through to the players. Beyond that, you can expect cash rich companies, like Apple, Google and the like to be involved in the next round of negotiations. As long as the NFL continues to be our obsession (look at some of these comment boards), advertisers will pay up, and pay up big for it. Make no mistake the NFL salary cap is going higher.

    There is another possibility for this year’s larger increase that has nothing to do with last year’s revenues, at all. The NFLPA may have ‘borrowed’ salary cap space, against future cap rises. In the new CBA, the owners negotiated the increases, in TV revenue, from the most recent deal, would begin to flow through after this season-that’s why most expected the salary cap to remain ‘flatish’ this year and see a significant jump next year (for anyone who cares, the players weren’t being shut out, the owners were paying higher benefits-pensions, insurance, career counseling..all things that could be discounted, so less up front cash outlay for the owners). Now, as you pointed out, the cap has been relatively flat, for the prior 5 year period. However, during this period, star player’s salaries, specifically QBs, have exploded. The result has been reduced pay for everyone else. The new rookie cap, was supposed to help correct this inequality. However, the owners just took that savings and used it to further increase the chasm between the stars, and everyone else.
    Before each year the NFL and NFLPA sit down to hash out the prior year’s revenues and set the salary cap. It is certainly possible the NFLPA asked the league to ‘borrow’ cap space, in 2014, against future increases, so teams could pay veterans (look at the contracts/guaranteed guys like Dansby and Grimes got…without the cap increase, they aren’t likely), who in recent years have been forced to play on 1yr, lower paying (relative term), deals.

    If they NFLPA borrowed this year, then the league may have agreed to simply smooth out the expected rises in the next couple of years. Remember, each team must spend, in cash terms, 89% of the available cap space between 2013-16. So, if the cap were to dramatically rise next year, and in 2016, the owners would have to really ramp up cash spending-especially if there were under the cap, like the NYJ, for the first 2yrs-in order to meet that 89% requirement (thanks for that link LeeBur).

    Another theory, for you Oliver Stone lovers, is the league wants to keep D Smith, in charge at the NFLPA. The players will vote on their union leadership before the 2015 season. Sean Gilbert, Darelle Revis’ uncle, and a man who once sat out an entire year in a contract dispute, is a proposed challenger. There is no way the owners want to see that guy get that job. Giving D Smith money this year, might provide him some clout with his constituents.

    Apologies for the long winded answer. But, I just wanted to explain why, without an unknown work stoppage and renegotiation, that fans should expect similar increases coming in the salary cap.

  • KAsh

    @David

    80% of starters would mean 17 out of 22 (77.2%). I bet there are five positions just on offense that you cannot say that there is a guaranteed starter. Name me the obvious starter at these positions:

    quarterback
    left guard
    right guard
    tight end
    wide receiver 2

    Then, there are the less obvious positions that can have their starters knocked off: the rest of the o-line (no one was great), running back (Ivory is good, but cannot do all Marty wants from him), fullback (Bohanon really struggled, but we might just stick with him). But you are right: everything is settled in March.

  • KAsh

    @Lidman

    Except that an increase in the salary cap of $1 million per team would require an increase of $68.085 million in the NFL’s total revenue. ($1 million dollars to 32 NFL teams, which is 47% of the total revenue.) An increase of $10 million per team per year (like what we saw this year) requires the NFL’s revenue to grow by $680.85 million per year, and would equate to the revenue stream growing by over $2 billion in the next three years. This in a saturated market (pretty much everyone who will watch football already does) in a troubling economy and at a time when youth football is starting to see declining participation. You may well be right and we are going to see increases in the next few years, but don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

  • zeb

    Lidman,

    Thanks for the information. Don’t forget about the NFL’s new initiative: NFL NOW, and app that will basically allow you to be up to the minute on NFL news, whereever you are. I’m sure this is likely forward looking to the next TV contract when those tech companies look at being able to distribute the NFL via their platforms, and devices.

    Kash,
    To answer you question, I think:
    Geno is going to start at QB Kerley is ‘currently’ the obvious #2 WR
    Winters is going to start at LG
    Colon is going to start at RG
    TE is very much a question mark

    David may have overstated, by defining a percentage, but your last paragraph leaves the possibility for Mangold/Brick to possibly be replaced. I know you used ‘less obvious’, but to suggest that is being unrealistic, no? By that logic, should we pencil in Giaco, Wilkerson, Richardson, Milliner or even Decker into starting spots?

  • Lidman

    Kash,

    You’re right, nothing is guaranteed. However, based on what I currently know (seen above), I believe the NFL salary cap will continue to increase for a while. Other things to remember:

    -If the league ‘expands’ to LA, that franchise alone is likely to cover the $2Bn you’re talking about. I mean if the Dodgers sold for over $2Bn, what is the NFL going to sell for in the country’s second biggest market?

    -If they did expand, they are likely to expand by 2 teams, for balance, another huge franchise fee. Imagine what one of these Russian oligarchs would pay to diversify his money into the US????

    -Building on the above idea, if the NFL were to move Jacksonville, or expand, to London they open up another continent. What would that franchise go for (in an expansion)?

    -This NFL NOW app, that Zeb talks about is another possible huge windfall. Sure, ‘Joe Average’ may have the Direct TV package, but if this app costs $30/yr, you think football fans are going to blush over that. Your right, these are tough economic times, with HD TV, and saturated coverage, the NFL can fill time, at a reasonable price. This is also a direct route to a much larger international audience.

    -To expand on the Googles/Apples of the world. Right now, the DVR is killing live advertising. Look at the TV contracts MLB gets nationally, and more regionally; they are staggering, especially when you consider their ratings v NFL. People watch sports live. Advertisers pay up for captive audiences. If the NFL starts being broadcasted via digital devices, think about how much companies will pay for those rights.

    I don’t know if the decline in youth football will ultimatey hurt the sport. But, I’m fairly confident, over the next 10yrs, their revenue stream will continue to rise.

  • Worldboy90

    @Joe

    Such a hippocrit man. You said yourself you felt uncomfortable having walls-milliner-wilson be the starting trio, and now you’re all like “Man we didn’t need cro!!” days after you said you’d feel alot more comfortable having him back. And as to your assumption that fa has a “cut off” date, it does, when the tier one and 2 players are signed your unlikely to improve your starting positions, just add crappy depth. SMH man, you’d give idzik a pass if he cut Brick and Mangold to “save some cap space” and draft two rookies in the 7th round to be our starters. Starting to remind me more and more of a Jets Beat Writer, except your on the opposite pole and will defend Idzik no matter what. SMH man.

    And as can Walls play worse than Cro? Yeah, of course he can, that one half where we he started he got torched like they were playing against air.

  • Joe Caporoso

    Again – Roster isn’t set until September.

    And no, technically Walls really can’t play worse than ‘Cro last year: pic.twitter.com/CCUtq57ee1

    Thought Walls played well vs. ATL last year, you search the site for some further work we did on him. Again, roster isn’t set yet. There are no games for over 5 months

  • Worldboy90

    @Joe

    No rosters not set yet but best talent is gone from the market; trading for an injured jonathan joseph, at a 11.5 mil cap hit, and giving up picks is good gming because you couldn’t sign someone? You get what I’m saying; best talent off the market. Trades requires giving up assets, (which could be avoided by just grabbing a fa), and draft nets simply rookies who 80% are not expected to contribute in the first year.

    You yourself said you are uncomfortable with darrin walls- dee milliner and now your backing off your comments saying Cro is bad. Cro was injured and there would of been no harm signing him to a prove-it deal like the cardinals, who have far more talent in the secondary already. SMH man. W/e I’ll leave you be its your site.

    N yeah, looking for summer cuts and bottom of the barrel fa’s to be starters is not exactly wise.

  • Joe Caporoso

    Fair to be frustrated and concerned but personally I’m not ready to bury the guy yet

  • John X

    The theme continues – if you’re angry with the results, you are quickly labeled as over-reactive, irrational, panic-stricken or any others by those “tolerant” fans. Those same tolerant fans are the one hurling insults. That’s the irony.

    If you are happy with the approach and the fact that all the talent is gone, by all means, keep that happy face. I personally don’t think many of those same fans are truthful but instead are trying to appear reserved and smart. It’s quite amusing, really.

    I would ask if you are happy with the approach, exactly who do you see the team holding out for?

  • John X

    Joe,

    Are you admitting that you are frustrated and concerned or just empathizing?

  • Joe Caporoso

    I am not frustrated or concerned but that is just me, others have every right to feel differently.

  • Lidman

    Joe,

    Harkening back to a previous discussion, where you asked if fans would prefer Idzik be at Jace Amaro’s Pro Day, or on the phone with DRCs agent. This snipet from Andrew Brandt’s column on MMQB.com:

    “New Jersey tug-of-war. In talking with sources on all sides of the negotiations, the Jets and Giants engaged in an interesting turf battle for the services of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
    New Giant Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
    Rex Ryan excited Rodgers-Cromartie with a pitch to put the cornerback “on an island” and make him a star. The Giants offered him detailed plans for facing every team in the division, describing how they would use him against specific receivers on the Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins.

    Thus, as it always does, it came down to economics. The Giants’ deal, with a $10 million signing bonus and $16 million over the first two years, was superior. The Jets held to the structure of a one-year $6 million deal, with options going forward, until it became clear the Giants were closing in. Only then did the Jets present a different type of structure, with general manager John Idzik scrambling to make up ground while attending Teddy Bridgewater’s pro day. By then, however, it was too late; the Giants had won the intra-stadium battle.”

    Now, I have no way of knowing who was feeding Brandt his info, and maybe you do and think it’s less than factual, which I can’t dispute. However, it’s the last line, that interests me. If the team is truly interested in signing a player, why low ball him, buy that much (he has to know the market)? On top of that, why go to anyone’s Pro Day, while you’re trying to get a player to sign with you, and that player is in yor state, with another team? As I said, Idzik is the leader of the organization. I would think, at this point in the year, FA should be his focus, especially if you indeed want a player (which this article suggests). He has a scouting staff for the draft, and there is plenty of time for him to bring Bridgewater or Pryor, to the Florham Park facility.

    I’m not necessarily frustrated, not looking hang anyone and would be elated if proven wrong. However, not every report concerning the team’s slow approach, to FA, can be off base, in my view. I don’t know what ‘the plan’ is. I still believe he is misunderstanding the supply/demand curve and how it relates to both the rising cap, and the fact that at present the team has a lot of work to do to reach the 89%, of cash outlays before 2016 ends (I know, plenty of time).

  • John X

    If anyone should know the market on CB’s, it would be Idzik who at that time had in some fashion contacted the top 8 CB’s to fly off the market.

    If that report is true, it’s negligence to the nth degree. What, he can’t rely on reports from his scouts or get tape on pro day performances? And obviously he was there to scout Marcus Smith and Calvin Pryor. Bridgewater is not a target.
    I hope the report isn’t true but you’re right, Lidman…what do we believe and not believe? Something to remember, that’s for sure.
    I appreciate some moves Idzik has made but I still miss Tanny. It’s quite possible that he’s out of touch in terms of negotiating.

  • John X

    As for frustrated, I certainly am. Disheartened is more accurate. To see a lot of this talent come and go to our competitors is painful and knowing we still have many holes for which Idzik can only plug with mediocre talent tells me 2014 isn’t what I hoped for already.

    And yeah, I had expectations. Who didn’t? We had for the first time in many years, a boatload of cash that complemented the high number of deficient positions. And a team that played well down the stretch after struggling midway through and keeping the coach and riding some strong momentum. I feel like it’s all been lost. We needed several quality starters to complement the draft picks in this draft to take that next step. It seems like we’ve done almost nothing.
    A good pickup at WR but beyond that, we replaced a RT, resigned Folk, Pace and Colon. It doesn’t feel like an improvement. And when you see the remaining players on the FA board, it doesn’t evoke confidence that much help is on the horizon.

    And all I see is preaching for patience grasshopper, patience. Really? Who are the Jets waiting for?

  • John X

    Jets have inquired about DeSean Jackson.

    They would truly be overpaying for him with that huge contract and a pick to get him. Good for MM’s offense. And one could argue the Jets were unable to spend on any other prospects…

  • LeeBur

    JohnX- while i have no problem at all with your frustrations. We will have the EXACT same starting lineup as last years 8-8 team.

    Only difference is 1) replace Cromartie (based on all the Metrics had 1 of the worst seasons for CBs) with Walls/Draft Pick. 2) replace whoever started at outside WR (whoever we put there wasnt good) and replace with Decker. 3) replace Howard with Giacomini (depending on your view, most think its a lateral move).

    Hopefully the young guys (Milliner/Winters/etc) we started improve. Hopefully the older guys (Landry/Colon/etc) dont drop off too much. On top of the quality (hopefully) rookies we bring in. Do you think its unrealistic for us to go 8-8 or 9-7 and sneak into the wild card?

  • Worldboy90

    @Leebur

    We play pats twice (who got significantly better), denver, and the NFC North. Not to mention Chargers, Chiefs, Steelers, and Titans are considered equal with us, if not better. We’re gonna have a rough time getting over 7 wins with this roster. Unless you can realisitcally tell me where we get those 8 to 9 teams. I mean if we sweep the AFCE outside of the pats, we’d still have to struggle for more than 3 wins outside the division.

  • Zeb

    In regarding who the NYJ do or don’t talk to, Hakeem Nicks was on the Michael Kay show this afternoon, and said the NYJ reached out to him. He didn’t go into any detail, but his contract, for 1yr max’ out at $5.5mm, if he reaches incentives. To me, that looks like a bargain, especially if they’re considering trading for DJax, who will cost them a pick, or two on top of a fairly large contract extension.

  • KAsh

    @Lidman

    That contract actually seems about right for DRC. Some other article said that the Giants’s initial offer to him was for $5-6 million per year. DRC was one of the best corners in football last year, but the guy is a screwball. In the long line of evidence, there was his retirement talk (at age 27!), his awful play in Philly, and his being on three teams after six years in the league. Perhaps the Jets should have offered him a two- or a three-year contract, but $6-6.5 million per year is all I would bet on him for the next two years, at least.

  • Lidman

    Kash,

    My view is one individual, or in this case, one team is not right; ‘the market’ is always right. ‘The market’ determines value. So, Idzik might have his view of ‘value’, but the results (in this case what value guys like Cro, DRC, V Davis, A Howard, Nicks etc)illustrate he’s not in line with the market-he’s wrong. If your family needs milk, and you drive all over your town and the cheapest price you see is $3 gallon, then that’s the price, no matter how much you disagree. If you only want to pay $2 gallon, then your family is going without milk, or have to settle for water..tap water.

    Now, a year from now if DRC’s performance doesn’t live up to that number, Idzik will have proven to be shrewd, by not signing him, for a longer term, with a big guarantee (similar to 1st round draft picks being a ‘bust). However, that doesn’t change where ‘the market’ was for that specific service (in this case a ‘man cover CB’) at that time. My claims of JI not understanding the supply/demand curve are based on this premise. So, you telling me ‘That contract actually seems about right…’ is your view of value. Ok, you have the right to your opinion, and that opinion will force you settle for a cheaper alternative, like tap water.

  • John X

    LeeBur,

    You don’t have to play Captain Obvious…I know the entire roster quite well.
    I’m not impressed with this. I’m just not.

    By all means, twist it any way to choose to make you happy. Good luck convincing me.

  • John X

    Lidman,

    This is the most simplistic thing you could hope to explain – market value. If they can’t comprehend such rudimentary concepts, then you can’t help them.

    Let them go on their delusionary life believing that this Idzik character has all the answers and will be able to somehow stock the team with meaningful players to help them compete and win.
    Maybe he knows what he’s doing but to this point, I see know evidence of such. We have no choice but to wait and see so I’m not sure why they keep screaming patience – “Serenity Now!!”. In essence, they want you to behave as they do which is really quite oppressive. It hints at their lack of confidence.

  • LeeBur

    JohnX- im not twisting anything and you dont need to give an attitude with the “captain obvious” statement. I wasnt trying to talk down to you. You never answered the question though. You dont think we can sneak into the wild card?

    WB- That is certainly a tough schedule, but the Jets beat teams last year that were “better” then them (Pats/Saints).

  • Lidman

    JX,

    I’m holding out hope. However, if the NYJ go sign Vick today, for more than they could have gotten Cro, or DRC for, it will be a bad sign. If then, he trades a 3rd round pick, to acquire Desean Jackson, it will be even worse, in my eyes. Don’t get me wrong Vick can be a good player, but he gets injured way too much. Jackson is another animal. If the NYJ wouldn’t pay Revis, a guy who wanted top dollar, but never let the business side of football ever affect his on field performance, but then go out and trade a draft pick, and then have to resign a guy to a massive contract, or risk that he sulks, like he did in 2011 and doesn’t perform, it would scream of desperation in my view. Sure, Jackson is an upgrade for the NYJ, but it simply flies in the face of ‘building via the draft’ and not using FA to ‘phone a friend’.

    I think Frank A wrote, regarding the NYJ not resigning Cro, ‘who knows Cro better than the Jets’ (I’m paraphrasing). Well, the same can be said about Philly and Jackson. If a team is willing to let a talent like that go, for a 3rd round pick, and have to absorb a $6.5mm dead money cap hit, for this season, it tells you something.

  • John X

    LeeBur,

    To answer your question, I’d have to see how we address the draft. Looking out into the future in my crystal ball, I see issues at CB. I can envision Kyle Wilson starting there now with a rookie at nickel and relying heavily on Milliner which is what the team wanted to avoid going into 2014.
    At the moment, we still have the worst ILB tandem in coverage with weak safeties and a very questionable CB combo. At some point, teams won’t even pretend to run on the Jets and simply pass at a very high percentage of plays.
    The Jets failed to land a CB and I have no idea of their plan at safety. I don’t believe the tandem of Landry/Allen is the grand plan but who knows?

  • KAsh

    @Lidman

    You are talking about the market price, but free agency is an auction, not a market. A market price is established by countless factors, each of which affect the price without being able to manipulate it. There are many sellers, many products, and many buyers that combine to determine the price. There is only one DRC; he has his own unique characteristics and traits; and his price was decided by Jerry Reese.

    To use your example to demonstrate the difference between a market and an auction, if there is only one gallon of milk left in the city (and its seller knows this), do you still buy the milk, no matter what price? Or do you go a week without milk? Maybe switch to water? Bid up the price of milk so that your neighbor cannot afford it? Chase off other buyers and then pretend you are no longer interested? Or maybe your business uses a gallon of milk to make a brick of solid gold. There are many more considerations that go into an auction and many of them involve you never seriously planning to buy the milk. But it is always important to know how much what you are buying is worth to you.

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