Breaking down the New York Jets’ 2022 cap space allocation position-by-position
How will the New York Jets spread out their cap dollars in the 2022 season?
Let’s rank the Jets’ position groups based on where each group currently ranks among all 32 NFL teams in projected cap spending for the 2022 season. We’ll start with the Jets’ least expensive unit (relative to the rest of the league) and progress upward from there.
8. Running back – 28th ($7.3M)
The Jets have elected to build their running back unit through post-first-round draft picks and low-cost free agent signings, making their RB unit one of the NFL’s most inexpensive.
Second-round pick Breece Hall and fourth-round pick Michael Carter are the faces of the unit. Hall’s contract details are not yet official, but he is expected to have a 2022 cap hit of about $1.6 million based on his draft position (36th overall). Carter (107th overall) had an $861K cap hit in his rookie season and will see that number rise to just above $1 million this season.
New York’s most expensive veteran is Tevin Coleman, who will have a cap hit of just $1.5 million in 2022.
7. Quarterback – 20th ($13.9M)
Teams with a rookie-contract quarterback will always save a significant amount of money at the position compared to their peers with lucrative veterans. Zach Wilson will have a cap hit of about $8 million in 2022, which is currently set to rank 24th among quarterbacks.
However, the Jets are spending a little bit more than most teams on their backup quarterbacks, which is why their unit-wide QB ranking is four spots higher than Wilson’s individual ranking. Joe Flacco is set for a $3.4 million cap hit while Mike White follows him at $2.5 million.
Flacco has $2.8 million in guaranteed money, so the Jets are on the hook for the majority of his contract regardless of whether he makes the team or not (although his contract structure makes it pretty unlikely he will be released). White, on the other hand, has no guaranteed money, so the Jets would clear all of his money off the books if they release him.
6. Linebacker – 18th ($25.8M)
C.J. Mosley is set to have the second-highest cap hit of any inside linebacker in the NFL this season at $17.5 million. However, because the Jets are spending so little on the position outside of Mosley, they end up in the bottom half of linebacker spending.
Quincy Williams follows Mosley with a $2.5 million cap hit. After Williams, the rest of New York’s linebackers will have a cap hit under $1 million.
Keep in mind that Mosley was signed by Mike Maccagnan, not Joe Douglas, so Douglas himself has invested chump change in this unit. It must be a sign of confidence in the developmental abilities of Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich, who each have successful track records as linebackers coaches in the NFL.
Perhaps Saleh and Ulbrich believe they can get viable production out of this position without big-ticket players.
5. Tight end – 17th ($9.8M)
This is a surprising ranking for the Jets considering they signed a pair of free agent tight ends (C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin) to three-year deals that combine for a maximum value of $44.3 million.
However, Uzomah and Conklin’s deals are heavily backloaded, so their year-one cap hits are actually fairly low. Uzomah will have a $4.7 million cap hit in 2022 while Conklin will cost $3.4 million.
It’s not until the 2023 season that the Jets will really feel the impact of these two contracts. In 2023, Uzomah’s cap hit will spike to $9.7 million while Conklin’s will rise to $8.4 million. At the moment, the Jets have the fifth-most cap dollars allocated to the tight end position for the 2023 season ($19.3M).
Uzomah and Conklin’s cap hits will remain the same in 2024 as they were in 2023 ($9.7M for Uzomah and $8.4M for Conklin).
4. Specialists (K/P/LS) – 15th ($6.5M)
Pineiro can be cut without any repercussions. But if the Jets cut Zuerlein, they’ll owe him $1 million of guaranteed money, which was included in the one-year deal he signed with them this offseason. They’d only clear about $985K in cap space by releasing Zuerlein compared to the $2.4 million that Pineiro would free up.
3. Defensive backs – 14th ($34.5M)
With a blend of young players and veterans, the Jets fall in the middle of the pack when it comes to the secondary.
Reed signed a three-year, $33 million deal, but like Uzomah and Conklin, his contract is backloaded. Reed’s cap hit is $4.6 million this season. It jumps to $14.2 million in each of the next two seasons.
The same goes for Whitehead. On paper, it’s a two-year, $14.5 million deal, but that money is spread out with a $4.2 million cap hit in 2022 and a $10.2 million cap hit in 2023. The Jets could release Whitehead after this season to escape the eight-figure cost, but they’d still be on the hook for $3 million in dead money.
Because of these salary spikes, the Jets currently have the eighth-most cap dollars allocated to their secondary in 2023 at $45.7 million.
2. Offensive line – 5th ($48.5M)
The high expectations for New York’s offensive line are reflected in the amount of money that the team has invested in the unit. Only the Cardinals ($54.2M), Lions ($50.6M), Eagles ($49.6M), and Colts ($49.6M) are projected to spend more cap dollars on their offensive line in 2022.
The third (and final) years in the contracts of George Fant and Connor McGovern are the primary driving forces here. Fant is set for the 16th-highest cap hit among offensive tackles at $11.1 million. McGovern is set for the fourth-highest cap hit among centers at $10.3 million.
Following suit with his fellow 2022 signees, Laken Tomlinson has a low cap hit thanks to the backloaded structure of his lucrative three-year, $40 million deal. He’ll only cost $5.6 million this year. In 2023 and 2024, Tomlinson will have a massive cap hit of $17.4 million. That mark is currently set to rank fifth-highest among guards in 2023.
1. Defensive line – 1st ($56.2M)
The Jets have spared no expense in providing Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich with the talent they need to execute their vision of an attacking 4-3 defensive line that creates pressure without the aid of the blitz.
At $56.2 million, the Jets edge out the Chiefs ($55.4M) for the most expensive defensive line of the 2022 season at this moment in time.
New York’s big three of Carl Lawson ($15.3M), John Franklin-Myers ($12.5M), and Quinnen Williams ($10.6M) accounts for over two-thirds of this money. Sheldon Rankins also has a sizable cost of $6.2 million.
It’s clear how the Jets want to win football games
Since he was hired in 2019, general manager Joe Douglas has consistently stated that he wants to build the Jets’ roster with an inside-out mentality – prioritizing the trenches first and foremost.
He’s put his money where his mouth is.
The Jets are currently poised to spend an NFL-high $104.7 million of cap space on their offensive and defensive lines in 2022. That makes up 45.1% of their overall spending ($231.9M), which is well above the NFL average of 34.9%. Only the Colts (47.0%) and Eagles (51.7%) are currently investing a higher percentage of their cap dollars into the offensive and defensive lines.
New York’s mission statement is loud and clear: This team wants to win football games by dominating the line of scrimmage.