Joe Douglas, NY Jets, Cap Space, 2023
Joe Douglas, New York Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets’ long-term cap outlook appears strong

Of all the moves Joe Douglas has made since becoming the New York Jets‘ general manager, cleaning up their salary cap situation is the most important. Unlike the two previous so-called financial gurus whom the Jets ill-advisedly hired, Douglas knows where to invest his money and how.

So it’s not a surprise that Pro Football Focus ranked the Jets’ three-year salary cap outlook the sixth-best across the NFL. PFF uses multiple metrics to evaluate the cap, including active draft capital, 2022-24 effective cap space, total prorated money, Top 51 Veteran valuation, and 2023 unrestricted free agent valuation.

This is what PFF had to say about the Jets’ salary cap:

“The Jets trail only their co-tenant (Giants) when it comes to active draft capital, making three first-round selections in this year’s draft after adding two first-rounders in 2021. Over the last two drafts, they’ve made seven selections in the top 36 picks — a good way to add premium talent.

“General manager Joe Douglas was once again active in free agency without splurging on one particular player, solidifying the offensive line with the addition of guard Laken Tomlinson — who is familiar with the coaching staff from their time together in San Francisco. The Jets also turned a major weakness at the tight end spot into a formidable trio of C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Conklin and rookie Jeremy Ruckert. On defense, the additions of cornerback D.J. Reed and safety Jordan Whitehead were calculated expenditures that should dramatically improve a poor secondary.

“We’ve praised the roster construction approach on a macro- and micro-level the last few years, and for good reason, but even in a vaunted AFC conference, it’s time for this Jets team to legitimately expect to be in every game it plays, even if it doesn’t win a ton of them.”

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This is high praise coming from PFF after many fans thought they underrated the Jets in several recent rankings (running backs 24th, wide receivers 18th, defensive line 16th).

PFF’s assessment echoes Jets fans’ approval of Douglas’s approach to team-building. It is uncommon for a general manager to lead a team to six victories in two years and be so popular among a fan base.

Unlike Mike Maccagnan, who thought that cap space meant he must spend no matter whether the player made sense at the price point he offered, Douglas has his valuation in his head and sticks to it. When he pays for a free agent, he does so within a specific framework based on value to the team.

Additionally, Douglas makes sure to frontload contracts so that the Jets are not bogged down with dead money years down the line. While no team signs a free agent with the idea that it’s good to release them before the contract is over, having the maneuverability with a veteran who is no longer performing to their contract level is critical.

Many teams set up contracts in just the opposite way: they push the cap hit to the later years of a contract, which may afford the team a chance to “go for it” in the earlier years of the deal but then holds them back for years afterward.

The excitement surrounding this Jets team is long overdue. Jets fans have been starving for hope for a decade. Joe Douglas is bringing it to them, both for now and the foreseeable future.

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Rivka Boord has followed the Jets since the age of five. She is known locally for her in-depth knowledge of football. She hopes to empower young women to follow their dreams and join the sports conversation. Boord's background in analytics infuses her articles with unique insights into the state of the Jets' franchise and the NFL as a whole.
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1 year ago

Joe Douglas is building this team the RIGHT way, the draft, inside, out, and the occasional free agent ! Can’t wait! Just extend THIS season!

1 year ago

Douglas utilizes every nickel of the CAP, he has shown flexibility in contract structures, using guarantees effectively. 2023 the CAP is expected to rise 20 million, Jets are currently at 12.5 for 2023..for a 33 million total CAP.. But the key is that the Jets can walk away from underperforming players without an exorbitant Dead CAP hit, so next year its sign one , cut one as the roster gets fine tuned.

1 year ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

There is a strong tendency to backload contracts league wide , because of the anticipated increase in the CAP of 20 million in 2023, and an additional 20 million in 2024. I think it’s fair to say that Douglas is conservative with back loaded contracts.

1 year ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

It won’t be exorbitant by they time they pay him. The salary increases across the board will make that look like a good deal.