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.”
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.