Jets Headed for Salary Cap Hell

G.M. Mike Tannenbaum | New York Jets

It's not guaranteed that New York Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum will be back in 2013, nevertheless some major personnel decisions lie ahead for Gang Green's front office this offseason.

With their postseason hopes fading away, the New York Jets' salary-cap situation doesn't exactly paint a promising picture for the future. The Jets currently have 40 players under contract through the 2013 season and are $22 million over the $120 million salary-cap, this according to NYJetsCap.com.

Starting in 2009, Rex Ryan's first year as head coach, the Jets loaded up their roster with veteran talent and pushed salary-cap hits two and three years down the road in order to afford a blue-chip roster. New York's lack of salary-cap flexibility has already hampered the team this season and is a major cause for concern heading into the 2013 season and beyond.

Mark Sanchez's salary is guaranteed for the next two seasons, but that's merely the tip of the iceberg.

Depending on the outcome of this season, the Jets have a handful of roster cuts that would make perfect sense and free up significant cap room. Gang Green's cap casualties could include: Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Jason Smith, and Eric Smith, which could put them at $12 million under the cap in 2013. But that would leave the Jets with just 36 players under contract and 17 active roster spots to fill, not to mention another 37 training camp players to absorb the remaining $16 million.

If the Jets are in a "purging" mood why not add Tim Tebow, Santonio Holmes, Sanchez or even Darrelle Revis to a list of cap castoffs?

Not so fast.

Cutting Sanchez and Revis would cost Gang Green a combined $7.3 million, while parting ways with Tebow and Holmes would free up a mere $2.75 million between the two.

Nine of New York's starters will be upcoming free agents this offseason: Mike Devito, Bryan Thomas, LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Dustin Keller, Austin Howard, Brandon Moore, Matt Slauson and Shonn Greene. The Jets front office will have to structure cap-friendly deals in order to keep the majority of their core roster intact.

Suffering through a miserable 4-7 campaign, there's an increasing likelihood that a complete shake-up along the depth chart, the front office and the coaching staff could be in order.

If Gang Green elects to go the rebuilding route, trading Antonio Cromartie and Revis would free up over $30 million in cap space over the next two years. While most Jets fans would cringe at the thought of trading two cornerstones of Ryan's defense, the Jets would re-position themselves well for the long-term by stockpiling draft picks and maintaining cap flexibility.

With an uphill battle to the playoffs ahead of them, the Jets might have to start planning for the future by restructuring contracts and assembling a contending team through the draft.

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