New York Jets: Three areas to spend extra cap space

New York Jets, Joe Douglas

The New York Jets opened some cap space with a series of transactions last week. Where should they spend that cash?

As AC/DC once famously declared…money talks.

The departure of several players…be it through opt-outs (C.J. Mosley, Josh Doctson) or outright releases (Brian Winters)…netted the New York Jets some extra 2020 cap space. Per Over the Cap, these moves have left the Jets with just over $30 million in cap space. If words from this time last season are any indication, they plan on using that money.

In his earliest days as the helm of the Jets’ decision-making, general manager Joe Douglas mentioned he was “fired up” to familiarize himself with the waiver wire.

Where should the Jets spend this relative windfall? ESM has some ideas…

Receiver

With the release of Quincy Enunwa, there are no receivers left from the 2018 roster, Sam Darnold’s rookie season. In terms of the current depth chart, Jamison Crowder is a reliable prescience in the slot and Breshad Perriman is going to get to audition for top receiver duties. Behind them, however, the Jets are sorely lacking in experience. That attribute became even thinner when former first-round pick Doctson opted out earlier this month.

The Jets have high hopes for Denzel Mims but he’s their second-round pick. Vyncint Smith and Braxton Berrios return from last year’s team, but they have a combined 28 receptions between them…all but six of them coming from Smith. Players with handfuls of NFL snaps and undrafted free agents populate the rest of the corps. No one’s expecting the modern Jets offense to be a sequel to the Greatest Show on Turf. But some more experienced receivers could do wonders for the confidence of Darnold, who enters the proverbially vital third under center. An easy solution could be to re-sign Demaryius Thomas.

Potential Candidates: Paul Richardson, Taylor Gabriel, Demaryius Thomas

Pass Rush

The Jets knew that the foreseeable future would feature a pair of matchups against the multi-talented Josh Allen. This offseason promised that the next decade could also feature get-togethers with Tua Tagovailoa and Cam Newton. The 2020 slate also features matchups against the speedy Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, and, the half-billion-dollar man himself, Patrick Mahomes.

The common theme around any modern defensive gameplan, especially in today’s era that worships a fantasy football deity, is to make the quarterback uncomfortable. That’s something the Jets simply haven’t done over the past few seasons of futility. Since 2016, the Jets have earned 129 sacks. That sounds like a lot on paper, but the cumulative tally is 29th in the league in that span, besting only the Giants, Dolphins, and Raiders.

New York management has shown surprisingly little interest in Jadeveon Clowney (even with his former Seattle compatriot Bradley McDougald playing matchmaker), but there’s still potential to upgrade here. There’s plenty of veteran help on the market that can raise the pressure, if only so slightly. Bringing in a veteran name could also help the coming-of-age process for Quinnen Williams. Last season’s first-round pick is expected to take on a bigger role as a defensive playmaker in 2020.

Potential Candidates: Cameron Wake, Malcolm Smith, Ezekiel Ansah, Jabaal Sheard

Secondary

The Jamal Adams saga is over, but the questions have only just begun.

The safety position will be one of the most consistently intriguing green areas on the New York football landscape. Marcus Maye faces a contract season that will feature expanded duties and could determine his football future. Another Pac-12 alum, Cal’s Ashtyn Davis, joined the team after a third-round calling. Bradley McDougald, the only yield from the Adams trade with a name so far, filled in well for Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas in Seattle but will be expected to take on a larger role this time around. Behind those names lies uncertainty in the form of names with very limited regular season experience.

Remaining names on the safeties market are certainly big on age on experience. Former Giant Antoine Bethea may be beyond his prime, but options like Clayton Geathers and Morgan Burnett can provide some veteran stability and strong contingency options if Maye and McDougald don’t play up to expectations and Davis struggles to acclimate to instant contributions on the NFL level, veteran help could come in very handy.

Potential Candidates: Clayton Geathers, Morgan Burnett, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, John Cyprien

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants Have $21M In Cap Space – Should They Spend It?

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The New York Giants have seen their salary cap space expand recently. The team had three players officially opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to COVID-19 concerns, freeing up plenty of money for Big Blue. Nate Solder, Sam Beal, and Damari Scott were the three players who opted out.

Now, according to Field Yates of ESPN, the Giants have the twelfth-most salary cap space in the NFL post-opt-outs. New York is sitting with $21,441,129 in cap space available. That is a considerable amount of money, but Joe Judge made it clear this week that the Giants “don’t feel like [they] have money burning a hole in [their] pocket.”

Joe Judge indicated that the team was not planning on spending this money. But that was before DeAndre Baker’s prosecution became official and before Sam Beal opted out of the season. The Giants have a huge hole to fill at cornerback and they might be wise to reach into their pocket in order to fill that hole.

Why Should They Spend It?

If the Giants spend this money, they need to get a player in a serious position of need. The biggest weaknesses on this roster are at center and cornerback. But the Giants seem content with what they have at the center position, preparing Nick Gates to compete with Spencer Pulley and Shane Lemieux for that job.

The Giants have a few young guys at cornerback that could fill the role, but their inexperience could lead to a season full of struggles. Last year, the Giants rolled into the season with a young stable of defensive backs. Week after week, the team’s secondary was torn to shreds. The Giants would be wise to sign another veteran cornerback to their roster for the 2020 season.

There are some notable veteran cornerbacks available on the free-agent market. The biggest name is Logan Ryan, a former New England Patriot and Tennessee Titan. Ryan’s time spent in New England gives him a connection to Joe Judge. Other notable free-agent cornerbacks include Ross Cockrell (formerly of the Giants and then the Panthers, giving him a connection to James Bradberry), and Dre Kirkpatrick.

If the Giants were to sign Logan Ryan, he could provide a huge boost to the team’s defense. Ryan totaled 13 combined tackles, 8 quarterback hits, 18 passes defended, 4.5 sacks, and 4 interceptions. His sack total would have ranked second on the Giants in 2019. Ryan is versatile with the ability to play in the slot or outside. More importantly, Ryan has experience, something the Giants’ defense lacks.

Why Shouldn’t They Spent It?

If the Giants decide to pursue a player like Logan Ryan, he will not come cheap. Ryan is asking for over $10 million, which would just about cut their cap space in half. The Giants could hold onto their money and allow it to roll over into 2021.

New York also needs to get its younger players more experience. Signing a veteran cornerback would take valuable snaps and playing time away from younger guys, such as Corey Ballentine, Julian Love, and Darnay Holmes. Sometimes, the best way to learn is through experience. Failure can be a great teacher (see Dagobah scene in Empire Strikes Back).

These young defensive backs have plenty to learn, and much of it can only be learned on an NFL football field going against the toughest competition. These young guys are the future of the Giants’ defense. Getting them the live experience now will help them develop in the long run. After all, the Giants are a rebuilding team with plenty of young players. It might not be in the best interest of a rebuilding team to spend significant money on a 29-year-old cornerback.

New York Giants: How Nate Solder’s Opt-Out Affects The Team’s Salary Cap

New York Giants, Nate Solder

In May of 2020, the New York Giants reportedly had less than $3.5 million in salary-cap space. That number has increased significantly with the latest news of offensive tackle Nate Solder opting out of the 2020 NFL season. But head coach Joe Judge also stated today: “We don’t feel like we have money burning a hole in our pocket.” Regardless of how Joe Judge might feel, the Giants’ salary cap situation has changed drastically due to Nate Solder’s decision to opt-out of the 2020 season. How exactly does that decision affect the Giants’ salary cap in 2020 and ahead?

Nate Solder opting out of the 2020 season also has important implications for the rest of the offensive line. You can read about that HERE.

2020 Salary Cap

Exactly how much cap space did Nate Solder’s opt-out free up for the 2020 season? Here is what Jordan Raanan of ESPN reported on the topic today:

This is somewhat complicated. Solder was to count $19.5 million against the salary cap this season. He was to make $13 million, of which he already earned $3.1 million ($3 million roster bonus plus a $100,000 workout bonus).

It’s likely he will be classified as a “high-risk” opt out, making him eligible for a $350,000 stipend that will not be considered a salary advance. A source with knowledge of the salary cap confirmed to ESPN that this would leave the Giants with a cap savings of $16.05 million. – Jordan Raanan of ESPN

The Giants have freed up a significant amount of salary cap space in 2020. They could choose to spend that money or keep it as insurance, but it will not roll over into 2021.

2021 Salary Cap

Solder’s opt-out only frees up cap space for the 2020 season. This year’s salary will now be pushed to 2021. So if the Giants do decide to spend this additional money, it would have to be on a one-year deal.

Nate Solder’s contract was originally set to expire after the 2021 NFL season. Now, it will expire in 2022. His decision to opt-out might have extended his time with the Giants. Solder was a cut-candidate for next season due to his high salary and low dead cap hit. Now his salary cap hit in 2021 is $16.4 million with $13 million in dead cap.

The Giants’ new potential out in the Solder contract is in 2022. In 2022, Solder’s cap hit will be $22 million with only $6.5 million in dead cap. Ultimately, the Giants have gained salary-cap space in 2020 due to Solder’s decision to opt-out. But this decision actually inflates their salary cap numbers over the next two years. Regardless, it was the right decision for Nate Solder to make. His family’s health comes first. But it will be interesting to see how the Giants manage their salary cap with this new and unexpected development.