Talking Points: Jets Free Agent Frenzy

I told everyone last week not to panic, and I was right.  Two days into free agency, the Jets have already made an impact.  And they’re not done either, as they have money to spend.  Despite what the media says, the Jets are in a very good position.

Santonio Holmes re-signed with the team today.  It was a five-year deal for a total of $50 million.  The contract is backloaded, so his cap hit this upcoming season will only be $2.45 million.

– The team-friendly cap hit this season allows the Jets to go after Nnamdi Asomugha.  The media will call this potential signing a long shot, but I wholeheartedly believe it could happen.  The Jets should offer $10-12 million, which combined with non-monetary factors could very well be enough to lure him in.

– Nnamdi and Revis would form the best cornerback tandem in the history of football.  These two players are clearly the best two at their position.  If they join forces, I suggest they should be called the “No-Fly Zone”.

– Nick Folk re-signed with the Jets for another year.  He’ll be challenged in camp by Nick Novak.

– Yesterday, the Jets inked Wayne Hunter to a four-year deal.   Damien Woody looks to be retired.  Hunter is one of the most underrated linemen in football.  Jets fans should not worry about their 0-line this season.  The Giants have someting to worry about, however.

– Braylon Edwards is not expected to re-sign with the Jets.  He sent out a controversial message on Twitter about Jets management, but he quickly deleted it.  There were rumors of the Jets being interested in Randy Moss, but who knows how likely that is.

– Mark Sanchez was named the captain of the Jets today.  He will wear a ‘C’ on his jersey.

– The Jets are once again major players in free agency, despite the media saying for months that they’d completely strike out.  This is why you can’t believe what the media tells you.  If you do your homework and research the facts yourself, you’ll realize that the media’s truth is rarely the whole truth.

Santonio Holmes is back, but the Jets aren't done.

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Santonio Holmes Re-Signs with the Jets

Santonio Holmes has re-signed with the Jets. The deal is reportedly worth 50 million, 24 million if which is guaranteed, over five years. This is the most guaranteed money ever given to a wide receiver in NFL History. 

The Jets got their first priority done. They needed to bring back Holmes. The guy is a big play maker, and he did wonders to help the Jets’ offense.

Moreover, the Jets are now attempting to sign Nnamdi Asomugha. If the Jets succeed in signing Asomugha they will have signed possibly the best offensive free agent, Holmes, and the best defensive free agent, Asomugha.

Santonio Holmes Tweets Suggest Possible Return to Jets

Sure he mentioned Miami too, but it’s safe to say Santonio wants to be a Jet. What will that mean when a bunch of contracts are put in front of him? Who knows.

Talking Points: 2011 NFL Free Agency Preview

– Ahmad Bradshaw is in Miami right now and is expected to sign with the Dolphins.

– Nnamdi Asomugha is in Detroit and is expected to sign with the Lions.  That’s good news for both New York teams, as he’s out of both divisions.  We reported on this a while back, and I’ve been saying the Lions should pursue him since 2007, long before he was the undisputed second-best corner in football.

– The Jets signed Josh Baker today, an undrafted free agent tight end.

GREAT NEWS for the Jets.  Their dead money from last year will not count against the salary cap.  The Jets are now 7.8 mil under the cap.  Yup, you read that right.

– Once the Jets re-sign Harris for lower than his franchise cap number, they will have well over $10 million to spend.

– If the Jets can restructure Mark Sanchez (reports today said they may not be able to), that will put them around $15 million to spend.  Even if the Jets can’t restructure Sanchez’s deal, they can make it up the money by restructuring a few other deals and cutting a player or two.

– Damien Woody said today on ESPN 1050 that it’s the Jets or retirement.  Again, great news for the Jets.

Boomer and Carton’s Al Dukes came up with another ingenious song, this time about the Jets.

– I told Jets fans last week not to fear this upcoming free agency period.  These next few days could be some of the darkest in Jets history, but they also could be some of the brightest.  I strongly believe we will not be disappointed when this whole thing is over, and the Jets will once again be championship contenders.

For more on NFL free agency, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Football is back, but the fate of many teams could be determined this week.

The Worst Case Scenario for the Jets & Giants

Many people expect the Jets to lose and their free agents this offseason and thinks the team will have to make significant cuts to just get under the cap.

Unfortunately for Jets haters, none of it’s true.  If you want to believe the propaganda, go ahead.  I’m just telling you, it’s not worth your time, even if you want to believe it.

Here’s an article from The Jets Blog that uses actual numbers and scenarios to determine what the worst thing that could happen to the Jets would be.  The haters will be very disappointed.  In actuality, another team from New York may have more to worry about.

With talk of the lockout’s end spreading like wildfire over the last few days, there have been a number of fans concerned about just where the Jets stand with the 2011 salary cap. There have been multiple rumored cap figures being thrown around from various reporters, such as ESPN’s John Clayton, and NFL Insiders, such as Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post. The figures range anywhere from about $120 million to about $130 million, depending on what concessions the Union made in the first year of the new CBA in an effort to keep the traditional high spending teams like the Dallas Cowboys from being forced to cut veterans left and right in order to comply with a cap figure that is probably $15 million lower than projected when contracts were all signed.

So let’s try and clear up a few things before getting all excited about the Jets cap situation, which was reported to be around $120 million by Clayton a few weeks back.

Here is how that number has been arrived at: The Jets currently have about $102 million in official cap commitments for 2011. That is the number for all the players currently under contract to the team. ILB David Harris signed a franchise tender, rumored to be for $10.2 million. The NFL is also tracking dead money for players released following the 2010 season. The Jets had three big names released and they account for about $8.6 million. When you add those numbers together, you come up with Clayton’s figure of $121.3 million.

The most important thing to note about the cap, as Bent has been stressing the last few days, is that nobody knows just what will and will not count against the cap in 2011.

The Harris tender was never recognized by the Union as a valid contract. New language in the CBA may change the way a franchise tag operates by making a distinction between the middle and outside linebacker position. If that proves to be true, Harris’ franchise value will drop by a few million.

With the exception of the people in the negotiating room, nobody knows how the league will treat the dead money created by the cuts made right before the lockout began. Had the Jets thought that money would remain in the cap calculations, at the very least they would have held onto T Damien Woody.

Those salary cap figures also include close to $4 million in workout bonus money that was never earned due to the lockout. How will that be treated? Nobody knows. The Jets had two players that tried to work out during the very brief lifting of the lockout, LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson and DE Mike DeVito, but both were turned away. Will any of that money count? Nobody knows until the CBA gets into the hands of the owners and players, at which point it will very quickly end up in the hands of the general public.

Even assuming the worst – which is very easy to do for a time-tested Jets fan who has been trained to not just assume, but expect, the worst – the Jets have a number of avenues to create cap room to allow them to sign their free agents and rookies. Let’s take a look at the obvious ways to do that:

Restructures/Renegotiations

Mark Sanchez – Sanchez signed a contract back in 2009 that was pretty much signed to force the Jets hand into a renegotiation in 2011, unless the salary cap exploded in 2011. The $17.7 million cap hit Sanchez carries is not unexpected and both the Jets and Sanchez should have expected to rework the contract around this time. A very simple way to rework the contract is to pay Sanchez a $10 million prorated bonus, add an extra year onto his salary and reduce his base salary to $4.75 million.

(Cap Savings – $7,500,000)

David Harris – For the sake of argument, let’s say the $10.2 million tender is valid. It is an unrealistic number for an inside linebacker and the offer was simply made to maintain exclusive negotiating rights with Harris. Personally, I don’t believe that Harris is a better player than Bart Scott, or more important to the team than Scott and I don’t think he will end up with a contract close to Scott’s 6-year $48 million market setter, but we will assume that is what the Jets will pay him. Under the original terms of Scott’s contract, Scott would have earned a first year cap charge of $5.45 million, a far cry from $10.2 million.

(Cap Savings – $4,750,000)

Jim Leonhard – The Jets have a significant amount of leverage with Leonhard, scheduled to count for $2.4 million in cap charges. Leonhard is in the final year of his contract and is coming off a major injury. If the team was to release him, he would only count for $330,000 in dead money. If the Jets offer him a one or two year extension with an opportunity to make back his salary this year down the line, he should jump at the opportunity. The Jets should be able to reduce his cap charge to $1.5 million.

(Cap Savings – $900,000)

Mike DeVito – DeVito has been a good soldier with the Jets, who quietly extended him in 2009. DeVito, totally unproven at the time, ended up with a contract with no job security that comes in the form of a signing bonus. He has developed into a solid rotational player for the team. He might be open to a two year extension onto his current deal where he gets the signing bonus needed for some job protection. I haven’t given his contract any thought, but a $4 million bonus now in lieu of some salary the next two years might get the job done.

(Cap Savings – $850,000)

Releases:

Bryan Thomas – Thomas has been a non-descript player for most of his career with the Jets, but has managed to remain with the team since 2002. The Jets do like his versatility, but the reality is they have been trying to replace him since he admittedly didn’t try very hard in 2007 after signing a new contract in late 2006. He’ll be given a take it or leave it ultimatum, with the take it offer probably not being much more than $1 million. My guess is that he will leave it.

(Cap Savings – $3,700,000)

LaDainian Tomlinson – I really enjoyed having Tomlinson on the team last year and he pulled off a miracle early in the campaign before tailing off at the end of the season. Expecting anything close to last year is just not realistic and with $3.1 million due in cash, it’s hard to see him on the team. The Jets have three other sets of much younger and fresher legs on the club, which should make him the odd man out. He seems to desperately want to be on the Jets, so when they give him the take it or leave it offer for the veterans minimum, he may just take it, but there is a good chance he will be released.

(Cap Savings – $3,125,000)

A Few Additional Notes:

NT Sione Pouha could also see his contract reworked if the Jets want to keep him beyond 2011. He is scheduled to count for $2.45 million, but the Jets may not want to extend him. They drafted Muhammed Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis to play on the line and are still high on Ropati Pitoitua, whose 2010 season was derailed by injury, who might be a lower cost and much younger version of Pouha … Calvin Pace will be asked to take a pay cut, but his high dead money charge gives him a lot of leverage. He will be in trouble if the dead money players from 2010 do not count against the cap in 2011, or if there is something of a one time cap free cut in the new CBA … Darrelle Revis will make $7 million in 2011 salary, but if the Jets were to prorate more money for him to reduce his cap charges in 2011 he would have the leverage in 2013 to get the crazy money he talked about when he held out last summer. No chance the Jets give him that leverage just to create a few million in cap room in 2011 …

Final Conclusion

If the Jets did all of the things outlined above, they would create an additional $19.8 million in cap room, once you factor in the replacement costs for BT and LT, to play with in the new league year. Using Clayton’s salary numbers, that will give the Jets around $18.7 million to sign their rookies and re-sign the key free agents.

Assuming rookies will effectively cost around $2.5 million in cap room, the Jets should have a budget of $14.2 million to play with in free agency, which would leave them around $2 million in wiggle room during the season. Is it enough to sign Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Antonio Cromartie? Maybe not, but it’s certainly a far better “worst case” scenario than most people seem to believe the Jets are in.

So there you go.  That analysis doesn’t even include possible exceptions that would allow the Jets to go over the cap.  Don’t worry Jets fans, everything will turn out fine.

Onto the Giants…

I’ve been saying for months now that the Giants are in a very similar cap situation, and there’s may possibly be worse.  Everyone ignored me and laughed it off.  Well, it looks like I may have been right all along.

Last year, the NFL salary cap was approximately $127 million. That was due to the expiring CBA and the rules of the last year of the contract. Once a new contract is agreed upon, you can bet your last buck the cap will be lower, somewhere around $120 million.

That would figure to hurt the Jets, who imported many high-priced free-agents over the past few years. As it turns out, it might not. The Jets have set themselves up fairly well considering. The team has to make a decision on three of those players: WRs Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes and CB Antonio Cromarite.

None of those players are really part of the Jets’ “core” so to speak. They were all traded for by GM Mike Tannenbaum in an attempt to win a championship in a hurry. The Jets may end up with two of the three, which would be a coup for them.

Holmes has said he wants to stay; Edwards’ market value has taken some hits with his off-the field antics and Cromartie may not find a suitor given his past issues. The Jets will have a shot at signing each of them.

The Giants, on the other hand, may have problems. They do have core players that need to be attended to.  RB Ahmad Bradshaw, DT Barry Cofield, TE Kevin Boss, WR Steve Smith ad DE Mathias Kiwanuka could all walk, although Smith and Kiwi may not be ready to play come opening day due to injuries.

The Giants may have enough money to barely re-sign their key free agents, but then they’re not going to have enough money to improve other areas of the time.  That would be fine, but the Giants have missed the playoffs the last two seasons.  They’re not going to be able to acquire a piece to get them over that hump.

Shocking?  Not really.  It’s just an example of the media pouncing on everything problem the Jets have or may have, and ignoring similar problems the Giants have or have had.  We saw the same thing when the media (Mike Francesa) was all over the Edwards DUI, but failed to mention Giants players with similar transgressions.

Giants free agents like Ahmad Bradshaw may be shown the door this offseason, while the Jets are actually may be in a better cap situation.

Mauling the Media: Jets Haters Already Making Headlines

Niners Nation had this to say about the Jets’ cap situation:

2. New York Jets

Currently 8.5 million under the cap and they have a lot of players whose contracts expired following the 2010 season. Now only if New York going to have to limit the players they re-sign, they are going to have to cut a couple players to get under the cap. With Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards hitting free agency, the Jets are going to turn their attention to re-upping one of those two players. This means that they are going to have to shave even more money off of their payroll.

Who Will Be Cut? LaDainian Tomlinson, Nick Mangold, Calvin Pace and Bart Scott

Impact Free Agents: Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Shaun Ellis, David Harris and Antonio Cromartie

There is a lot of talent here and most of these players will not be with the Jets in 2011. I could easily see them retaining Santonio Holmes and David Harris, while letting everyone else walk. A couple of players, Antonio Cromartie and Braylon Edwards could be on the 49ers radar.

Here’s a perfect example of why sports blogging should be left to people who actually know what they’re talking about.

First of all, Mangold, L.T., Pace, and Scott won’t be cut.  That’s just stupid speculation by someone who’s angry their team hasn’t been to the playoffs in nine years.  It doesn’t even make sense.  If the Jets wanted to cut any of those players, they would have done it before the lockout.  And why would they release Mangold right after signing him to an extension?

He also claims Cromartie and Edwards are going to be on the 49ers radar, which is laughable.  But let Niners fans have hope, their biggest accolades the past decade was beating the Giants on a missed pass interference call.  Actually, they’re probably more proud of  Patrick Willis winning Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2007, since he’s literally the only good player on their team besides Gore and Crabtree.

As for the impact free agents, someone didn’t do their homework on this one.  David Harris was franchise tagged, so he’s not a free agent.  Ellis was released by the Jets, so he’ll either leave or come back at a reduced rate.  The Jets’ cap situation isn’t as dire as the writer of this article makes it out to be.  There’s ways to restructure deals (such as Sanchez’s $18 million salary this season) to pretty much get as much under the cap as you want.  The Jets should definitely be able to bring back Holmes and either Edwards or Cromartie.  Even if they do pay a heavy price for two of those three players, there still will be room to maneuver under the cap.  There has been talk about numerous exceptions that teams can use to bring back players and sign players that would bring them over the cap.

Don’t worry Jets fans.  Everything is going to turn out fine.  Don’t listen to these unintelligent fans that have no idea what is going on.  There’s plenty of scenarios out there for us to work with, and virtually all of them result in us being an elite team for yet another season.  It’s not time to panic, it’s time to be optimistic.

For more on the Jets, the lockout, and free agency, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Daily Briefing: June 30, 2011

– The NBA lockout seems inevitable.  Quite frankly, anyone who thought a deal would be reached before July 1 is an imbecile.  The only question now is if this lockout will cause a cancellation or shortening of the 2011-2012 season.  I wouldn’t rule it out.  We saw what happened when the NHL wanted massive changes to their system.

– Yesterday we reported on the Knicks possibly showing interest in Kurt Thomas.  But as we all know, free agency is a very long time away.  Today we learned that Nene will opt out and become a free agent, but he will be an expensive option for the Knicks.

– In this article, Jesse Spector points out how the Rangers will not have any cap issues heading into tomorrow’s free agency madness.  I’ve been saying the same thing for the past few weeks.  Chris Drury’s buyout yesterday gives the Blueshirts even more money to spend.

– Paul Kariya announced his retirement today.  The left winger had a fantastic career, scoring almost 1000 points.  We hope to see him back with the NHL in some capacity soon.

– According to to Fox Sports, Santonio Holmes wants to finish his career as a Jet.  Well that’s all nice, but I refuse to believe anything until he signs an extension.  It’s as simple as that.  I’ve heard this story too many times before.  Edwards, Holmes, and Cromartie have all said that they want to be Jets.  So in a perfect world, they all would take discounts and re-sign.  However, that’s not going to happen.  In conclusion, talk is cheap.  If Santonio wants to be a Jet, sit down with the front office and work together on a deal that is good for both sides.

– The Yankees and Mets both won yesterday.  There is no doubt that both teams are red hot.  They will meet this weekend at Citi Field.

– John Harper opines that the Yankees should look into acquiring Prince Fielder this offseason.  I’ve been saying for months now that this is the way to go.  He’d be the perfect DH for the next 5-10 years.

As always, feel free to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest breaking news on all things New York sports.

Let's hope that tomorrow's Brad Richards signing will work out better than this did.