New York Jets – How Not to Spend Money

Michael McLaughlin on the New York Jets best and worst deals currently compromising their salary cap

The New York Jets have a spending problem. More specifically, the team has struggled to get value out of the investments it has made in players. While the organization used its last eight first round draft picks on defensive players, the cap hits for the offense and defense in 2016 are nearly identical. The numbers are a little over $67 and $68 million respectively.

As is expected with a 4-9 team, however, the roster is not filled with players outplaying their contracts. Below, I look at some individual players and position groups (this is not an exhaustive list) to evaluate the quality of personnel decisions made. All contract numbers are taken from overthecap.com, and the NFL salary cap for 2016 is 155,270,000. The 2017 cap is not yet known.

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The Good

Leonard Williams

Williams is 22. He is also the team’s best player, and he only costs a little over $4 million in 2016. That number will jump to $5 million next season. Nonetheless, he leads the team in sacks with seven and seems poised to be one of the best 3-4 defensive ends for years to come.

Bilal Powell

Matt Forte has played admirably. Powell has played better, and he costs less than $2 million this year. The woefully underutilized running back continued to show his ability to make defenders miss and displayed surprising power against San Francisco. While the 28-year-old may never get the chance to be a No. 1 running back, he has consistently produced when asked.

Quincy Enunwa

Enunwa is projected to finish with 58 catches for 839 yards. And at $615,000, that is a steal. With one year left on his deal, look for him to get a contract extension this offseason. Poor quarterback play has likely suppressed his numbers which could help lead to a team-friendly deal.

The Mixed Bag

Wide Receivers

They are projected to have a combined cap hit of $33.5 million in 2017, tenth in the NFL. While Brandon Marshall is projected to finish with 700 yards less in 2016 than last season, much of that can be attributed to the team’s quarterbacks. His cap hit in 2017 is $7.5 million, ranking 23rd for wide receivers. Despite this, the emergence of young players might make one of him or Eric Decker, who will count $8.75 million against the cap in 2017, expendable.

The Bad

Offensive Line

No starter grades out as above average according to Pro Football Focus. Yet the team has over $28 million allocated for the group in 2016, which is the eighth most in the NFL. Between Ryan Clady, Breno Giacomini and Nick Mangold, the cap hit is over $20 million for 2016 alone. In return, the trio has provided a combined 17 missed games. Unfortunately, it might be time to end the Mangold era. At 33, his cap number is over $9 million next year. That would be the third highest of any center in the NFL.

The Ugly

Cornerbacks

No team spends more than the $24 million the Jets do at the position. Few teams have experienced comparably bad play though. The group has only produced three interceptions, and its poor play is epitomized by Darrelle Revis being burnt numerous times in 2016 while playing off coverage.

Defensive Line

With three first round picks invested on the defensive line, the Jets defense as a whole has produced 22 sacks. While generating pressure can be just as important, the group has not consistently done that either. Its cap number in 2017 is projected at over $37 million dollars. That number simply cannot be justified considering the group’s production, inconsistent effort and demonstrated immaturity.

Amid their myriad of issues, one other issue the team has is its lack of identity. Moving forward, the organization needs to decide what type of team it wants to build. A clear plan will help maximize potential assets, which is what the Dallas Cowboys did by pairing league-leading rusher Ezekiel Elliot with its tremendous offensive line.

Photo credit: NewYorkJets.com