NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — This one is a bit confusing.
While much has been said about the Jets’ salary cap issues and depth on their defensive line being reasons why they could afford to let run-stuffing monster Damon Harrison go or, perhaps, trade end Muhammad Wilkerson, they appeared poised to add another big piece on the first day of free agency nonetheless.READ MORE: New York Weather: CBS2's 1/18 Tuesday Morning Forecast
According to MMQB’s Peter King, the Jets were very much involved in the Olivier Vernon sweepstakes. The veteran defensive end entered the open market on Wednesday after the Miami Dolphins removed his transition tag.
MORE: NFL Free Agency Tracker
The cost eventually got too prohibitive and the Jets bowed out, only to see the Giants swoop in and make history. Still, the Jets’ mindset seems to be they are not going to sit this signing frenzy out, regardless of their apparent cap issues.
The Jets were one of the final three teams in talks with Vernon’s agent, but didn’t want to pay him more than $15 million per season, King reported. The Giants later signed him to the richest contract for a defensive end in NFL history, parting with $85 million over five years, including $52.5 million guaranteed.
That’s more guaranteed cash than J.J. Watt, the best defensive player in the NFL, got two years ago.READ MORE: New York City Students Return To School With Remote Learning Option
The Jets’ willingness to go as high as they reportedly went for Vernon shows they are ready to make substantial roster moves to free up cash for free agents they view to be the right fit.
The question is how.
The Jets entered free agency only $6.5 million under the cap, and the cuts of veteran receiver Jeremy Kerley and tight end Jeff Cumberland on Wednesday upped that total to just a shade less than $10 million.
However, that amount of cash is still nowhere near enough to satisfy the Jets’ many priorities, not to mention signing Vernon. General manager Mike Maccagnan wants to re-sign quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (price tag believed to be at least $10 million per season), is believed to have a deal in place with running back Matt Forte and likely wants to upgrade several other positions.
How they could possibly get significantly under the cap likely would entail trading franchise-tagged Wilkerson, who will make $15.7 million in 2016, and, possibly, releasing a high-priced veteran, say for example left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who carries a staggering $14.1 million cap hit in 2016.MORE NEWS: Man Critically Wounded After Being Shot In His Car In Williamsburg
Maccagnan is a shrewd operator. The next few days should be interesting, to say the least.