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How the Jets can get creative to add more cap space before 2024 NFL Draft

Last Friday, the Jets pulled off a surprising trade by acquiring Eagles pass rusher Haason Reddick.

Although that improved Gang Green’s defense immensely, the trade had significant salary cap ramifications.

According to Over The Cap, the Jets have just $1.4 million in salary cap space. The good news is that the Jets’ heavy lifting in free agency appears to be done after they fortified the offensive line by adding John Simpson, Morgan Moses, and Tyron Smith. They also added backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor and wide receiver Mike Williams.

The bad news is the Jets will need to free up money before the 2024 NFL Draft to sign their class and possibly make other additions. Gang Green still needs help at safety, a backup running back, and maybe another wide receiver.

A few contract restructures can free up more salary cap space for the Jets. Defensive end John Franklin-Myers will almost certainly be asked to either take a pay cut or restructure his current deal.

Franklin-Myers’ 2024 cap number is $16.4 million. He is also scheduled to make 17.4 million in 2025, the final year of his contract.

With the addition of Reddick, Franklin-Myers could also be a candidate to be released. However, he is one of the veteran locker room leaders, so certainly, the Jets would like to keep him at a lower price. But if they were to release him with a post-June 1 designation, the Jets could save $10.7 million.

The likely scenario is that Franklin-Myers will restructure his current deal, which could free up to $9.2 million for the Jets.

Signing cornerback D.J. Reed to a contract extension and restructuring defensive tackle Quinnen Williams‘ deal that he signed last year would also add more money for the Jets.

Reed has proven worthy of an extension with his performance during the last two seasons in the Green and White. He is one of the more underrated cornerbacks in football, and Reed is entering the final year of his contract, which will pay him $15.6 million. It would be wise for the Jets to extend Reed, which would save them $7.5 million this year.

Williams signed a four-year, $96 million extension last year that will begin in 2024. A restructuring could give the Jets up to $10.6 million in additional space.

An additional way the Jets could add more salary cap space is to extend Reddick. He is in the final year of his deal, with a cap charge of $15 million.

Reddick is a proven player who has registered double-digit sacks in four consecutive seasons (50.5 overall during that span). It will be interesting to see how the Jets use him defensively.

Gang Green usually rotates pass rushers out to keep them fresh for later in the game. Last season, Reddick played 74% of the Eagles’ snaps. He is also versatile, as he can play linebacker and defensive end with his hand on the ground.

If the Jets gave Reddick an extension, he would save the team around $11 million.

The Jets don’t have to make all of these moves. But by restructuring Franklin-Myers and Williams and extending Reed and Reddick, the Jets could add up to a total of $38.3 million in cap space. That would be enough to sign their entire draft class and address the rest of the Jets roster holes.

Finally trading Wilson would create more cap space

During the NFL Annual Meetings last week, Jets owner Woody Johnson seemed firm on not releasing Zach Wilson if the team cannot find a trade partner.

“If we don’t trade him, we are going to keep him,” Johnson said in Orlando.

Johnson’s comments could be just smoke and mirrors because they don’t want to release Wilson for nothing. Johnson is also part of why the Jets are having problems trading the former No. 2 overall pick.

At NFL Honors in February, Johnson told reporters, “We need a backup quarterback, we didn’t have one last year.”

The Jets will begin their offseason program on April 15, and it would be wise for them to move on from Wilson before players start showing up to the facility. Teams know the Jets want to move on from Wilson after three disappointing seasons.

Wilson would count $11.2 million on the Jets salary cap and is scheduled to make $5.45 million in guaranteed money in 2024. If the Jets release Wilson, they won’t save any money. However, a trade would save them $5.45 million.

Gang Green could find a creative way to remove Wilson’s money off the books. They could send a draft pick to sweeten the pot to trade the 24-year-old.

In 2017, the Texans traded Brock Osweiler and his $16 million guaranteed salary to the Browns for a second-round pick. Cleveland later released Osweiler.

No one is suggesting that the Jets give up a second-round pick to get Wilson off their roster. But maybe a 2025 or 2026 fourth or fifth-round pick would be enticing enough for a team still needing a backup quarterback.


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