CJ Mosley, New York Jets
CJ Mosley, New York Jets, Getty Images

The Jets were sorely lacking in cap space after roster cutdowns and practice squad signings

Today’s New York Jets move was basically made three years ago.

As first reported by Field Yates of ESPN, the Jets have restructured linebacker C.J. Mosley‘s contract.

Tweets soon followed from members of the media, each attempting to explain the new details of the contract and what it means. However, some of the information in those tweets was inaccurate, incomplete, or woefully lacking context.

Instead of throwing the tweets at you and trying to clarify what’s right and what’s wrong, let’s go through the numbers step-by-step. If you’re still confused afterward, ask the former math teacher here.

Original contract

In 2019, Mosley signed a five-year, $85 million deal with the Jets. The contract included a $7.5 million signing bonus, $43 million guaranteed at signing, and $51 million in total guarantees.

The Jets GM at the time, Mike Maccagnan, was notorious for overpaying the market. This was one of his worse transgressions.

We’re going to use Spotrac.com’s contract breakdown to look at the original numbers. Then we’ll create our own table to look at the new contract details after the restructure.

Here is a look at Mosley’s contract prior to the restructure.

SEASONAGEBASE SALARYSIGNING BONUSROSTER BONUSCAP HITDEAD MONEY (how much would it cost if they cut him?)
201927$1 million$1.5 million$10.5 million$13 million$43 million
202028OPTED OUTOPTED OUT$10 million$10 million-----
202129$6 million$1.5 million-----$7.5 million$27.85 million
202230$16 million$1.5 million-----$17.5 million$20.5 million
202331$17 million$1.5 million-----$18.5 million$3 million
202432$17 million$1.5 million-----$18.5 million$1.5 million

Mosley’s first season with the Jets was cut short in the third quarter of his opening game with the team when he injured his groin vs. the Buffalo Bills.

In 2020, Mosley opted out of the season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which pushed back his contract one season. That’s why there are six seasons listed despite the five-year term of the contract. Therefore, 2021 was the second year of the five.

Let’s spotlight Mosley’s 2022 numbers prior to the restructure.

SEASONAGEBASE SALARYSIGNING BONUSROSTER BONUSCAP HITDEAD MONEY
202230$16 million$1.5 millionN/A$17.5 million (base salary + signing bonus)$20.5 million (if the Jets would cut him)

Before today’s move, Mosley was going to count for $17.5 million against the Jets’ 2022 salary cap: $16 million base salary and $1.5 million of the signing bonus from his original contract.

After the restructure

Unlike Mike Maccagnan, current Jets GM Joe Douglas knows what he’s doing. He has systematically moved to undo Maccagnan’s mistakes.

Let’s look at what happened with the move the Jets made today.

SEASONAGEBASE SALARYSIGNING BONUSROSTER BONUSCAP HITDEAD MONEY (how much would it cost if they cut him?)
202230$1.12 million$4.476 millionN/A$5.596 million$20.5 million
202331$17 million$4.476 millionN/A$21.476 million$14.904 million
202432$17 million$4.476 millionN/A$21.476 million$10.928 million
2025--------$2.976 million----$2.976 million----
2026--------$2.976 million----$2.976 million----

Suddenly, Mosley’s cap hit in 2022 goes down from $17.5 million to approximately $5.6 million. How did that happen? Did the money magically disappear?

Clearly not. What actually occurred was that the Jets took Mosley’s $16 million base salary from his original contract and converted it into a signing bonus.

How does a signing bonus work?

For salary cap purposes, when a contract includes a signing bonus, that results in a cap hit divided equally among the years of the contract or five years, whichever is shorter.

So, for example, let’s go back to Mosley’s original contract. He originally had a $7.5 million signing bonus.

SEASONAGEBASE SALARYSIGNING BONUSROSTER BONUSCAP HITDEAD MONEY
202230$16 million$1.5 millionN/A$17.5 million (base salary + signing bonus)$20.5 million (if the Jets would cut him)

When that $7.5 million is divided over five years, you get $1.5 million. Hence the $1.5 million signing bonus for each year of the contract.

What happened with the new signing bonus?

When the Jets converted $14.88 million of Mosley’s base salary to a signing bonus, that $14.88 million is now counted against the salary cap evenly over the course of five years or the life of the contract, whichever is shorter.

Mosley currently has three years left on his contract: 2022, 2023, and 2024.

Since five years is more than three, the signing bonus will spread on the salary cap over five seasons, 2022-2026. Since Mosley will not actually be under contract in 2025 and 2026, those are called void years. That’s what Field Yates meant when he said that the restructure adds two void years to the contract.

$14.88 million divided evenly across five seasons means that the signing bonus added from 2022-26 will be $2.976 million each season.

What does Mosley’s remaining contract look like now?

Let’s take a look at the life of Mosley’s contract now that the Jets restructured it.

SEASONAGEBASE SALARYSIGNING BONUSROSTER BONUSCAP HITDEAD MONEY (how much would it cost if they cut him?)
202230$1.12 million$4.476 millionN/A$5.596 million$20.5 million
202331$17 million$4.476 millionN/A$21.476 million$14.904 million
202432$17 million$4.476 millionN/A$21.476 million$10.928 million
2025--------$2.976 million----$2.976 million----
2026--------$2.976 million----$2.976 million----

Mosley’s original base salary in 2022 was $16 million. Since the Jets converted $14.88 million to a signing bonus, that leaves $1.12 million ($16 million – $14.88 million) that stays as base salary.

Mosley’s original contract had $1.5 million per year in signing bonus money for 2022-24. Now, the Jets added $2.976 million of signing bonus for those three seasons (plus $2.976 signing bonus in 2025-26, when Mosley’s contract has already expired).

Therefore, in 2022, this is Mosley’s salary cap hit: $1.12 million in base salary and $4.476 million in signing bonus ($1.5 million from the original contract and another $2.976 million from the newly restructured contract). His total cap hit is $1.12 million + $4.476 million = $5.596 million.

Remember, before the Jets restructured his contract, Mosley’s salary cap hit was originally $17.5 million. Now, it’s $5.596 million. So the Jets have saved $17.5 million – $5.596 million = $11.904 million, which is what Field Yates said in his tweet.

But what happens in 2023?

You might have seen tweets from the media warning that Mosley’s cap hit in 2023 is astronomical. Indeed, his official salary cap hit in 2023 is $21.476 million.

Let’s take a look back at the original contract, though, to clarify what this means.

SEASONAGEBASE SALARYSIGNING BONUSROSTER BONUSCAP HITDEAD MONEY (how much would it cost if they cut him?)
201927$1 million$1.5 million$10.5 million$13 million$43 million
202028OPTED OUTOPTED OUT$10 million$10 million-----
202129$6 million$1.5 million-----$7.5 million$27.85 million
202230$16 million$1.5 million-----$17.5 million$20.5 million
202331$17 million$1.5 million-----$18.5 million$3 million
202432$17 million$1.5 million-----$18.5 million$1.5 million

You can see that in 2023, the dead cap was listed as $3 million. That tells us that none of Mosley’s $17 million in base salary for 2023 is guaranteed.

If the Jets cut Mosley prior to the 2023 season, none of that $17 million means anything. It vanishes as if it never existed. This is why it never pays to even look at the total amount of an NFL contract; the devil is in the details.

So are the Jets home scot-free in 2023?

Not exactly. Here’s where a big salary cap catch comes in. Let’s take a look again at the details of Mosley’s restructured contract.

SEASONAGEBASE SALARYSIGNING BONUSROSTER BONUSCAP HITDEAD MONEY (how much would it cost if they cut him?)
202230$1.12 million$4.476 millionN/A$5.596 million$20.5 million
202331$17 million$4.476 millionN/A$21.476 million$14.904 million
202432$17 million$4.476 millionN/A$21.476 million$10.928 million
2025--------$2.976 million----$2.976 million----
2026--------$2.976 million----$2.976 million----

I listed the dead money if the Jets cut Mosley before next season as $14.904 million. Where did that number come from?

Here’s where we need to understand a detail of signing bonuses. If a player is cut prior to the end of his contract, all remaining bonus money is accelerated to the current year’s cap.

Ah. That’s quite a catch. Mosley has plenty of signing bonus money remaining on his deal, especially now that most of his 2022 base salary was converted into a signing bonus.

Let’s add the signing bonus remaining from 2023-26: $4.476 million + $4.476 million + $2.976 million + $2.976 million = $14.904 million, which would be Mosley’s dead cap hit in 2023 if the Jets cut him prior to next season.

The team would still save money: remember, Mosley’s cap hit would be $21.476 million if he’s on the roster in 2023. $21.476 million – $14.904 million = $6.572 million in savings. But nearly $15 million cap hit is very, very steep. Ouch.

So, the media is right: Mosley’s probably stuck with the Jets for 2023, right?

Not so fast.

Post-June 1 cuts

You may have seen the term “post-June 1 designation” before. What does that mean?

If a player is cut after June 1, all salary cap ramifications go on the following year’s cap. So any remaining guaranteed money, signing bonus, etc. is all pushed off to the following season.

Instead of actually waiting for June 1, the NFL allows teams to designate players as post-June 1 cuts and release them prior to that date. (For more information about pre- and post-June 1 cuts, you can read this article, which explains it in more fan-friendly language than some others.)

If the Jets designate C.J. Mosley as a post-June 1 cut at any point following this season, the salary cap numbers change.

Here’s what would happen: Mosley’s base salary would no longer apply, so the $17 million comes off the books.

The Jets would be on the hook for Mosley’s signing bonus in 2023, which would mean that his cap hit would be $4.476 million. Instead of the $21.476 million cap charge, the Jets would save $17 million on the 2023 salary cap.

Then, in 2024, the rest of the remaining signing bonus would accelerate to the salary cap. Therefore, the 2024 cap charge for Mosley would be $4.476 million + $2.976 million + $2.976 million = $10.428 million in 2024. Technically, the Jets would still be saving $11.048 million against the 2024 cap (because they wouldn’t be paying Mosley’s $17 million base salary in 2024, either).

This is what I believe the Jets will do following the 2022 season.

Offset language – an added wrinkle

Connor Hughes threw in another wrinkle in Mosley’s contract, which is not verified from other sources.

You may have heard of the term offset language as a reason that draft picks have delays in signing their rookie contracts.

Offset language can have some variation stating that if the original team were to release the player and another team would sign him, the contract with the new team would offset from the cap of the previous team.

In Mosley terms, that would mean that if the Jets cut him after this season and he signs elsewhere, his new contract would be subtracted from the Jets’ salary cap, giving them additional relief.

Again, this is unverified and we certainly do not have the details. But it’s something to keep in mind as a variable in the Jets’ decision-making.

One last word: cap vs. cash

Keep in mind that all these machinations apply primarily to the salary cap. When a team converts base salary into a bonus, it does not change when or how much money the player receives. All of these numbers are different from the cash that the player actually receives each season.

When a player originally signs a contract, the total signing bonus must be put in escrow (a separate account held in trust by the NFL) by the team upon signing. That is often an obstacle to contract negotiations, as owners do still vary in their financial picture and how much they want to hold in escrow considering their other contract obligations.

The bottom line

The Jets gave themselves some salary cap relief for 2022 by restructuring C.J. Mosley’s contract. They will still need to pay up against the salary cap eventually, but this move spreads the money a little more evenly in the future.

There is very little possibility that the Jets keep Mosley at a $21.476 million cap charge in 2023 considering his age and slowly declining play. If they do want to keep him, a renegotiation (also known as a pay cut) is theoretically possible.

I believe it’s most likely that the Jets will cut Mosley with a post-June 1 designation and then attempt to re-sign him at a more reasonable number. However, that will depend on his play and what else is out there on the open market.

Any questions?

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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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Dbushz
Dbushz
28 days ago

I didn’t see you address that if the Jets don’t spend all the money that was gained from the restructured Mosley contract, it rolls over into next year.

Jim G
Jim G
1 month ago

Excellent analysis. I’m glad you added the extra thought because I was wondering why the player would agree to these terms. Those fans who lament CJ Mosely’s lack of production in 2021 should consider that the Jets in asked him to become a player his was not: a thinner, more mobile LB, which was not what the Jets signed him to be.

Reprocity
Reprocity
1 month ago

Macc was not a good GM, but Bell was his worst contract by FAR!

Psi
Psi
1 month ago
Reply to  Reprocity

I would reserve that for the LeVeon Bell fiasco. At least there is some return (in the form of competent play) from Mosely. Mac was like the kid that goes into the expensive toy store with parents struggling to make ends meet and insist on buying the shiny toys. Just absurd.

Mike Palazzo
Mike Palazzo
1 month ago

The inside scoop and breakdown are always appreciated !!! Looks like JD has done all he could since arriving here in NY and will continue to set up the Jets for future success. Kudos to you for being a former math teacher.

Robert Papalia
Robert Papalia
1 month ago

I was not good at math in school when I was a kid. So I will take your word for it that the Jets did okay with this restructure deal.

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
1 month ago

If this were 1995 when I ran a sales channel, I could lock myself in a room for the weekend and get it done..I wasn’t yet tech savvy. My wife re-did my 3 days work in 3 hours but…
putting together a roster with cap calculations to put yourself in the best possible position while keeping your current of future players happy requires an MBA in Math.
Considering the past two drafts, free agent signings and dealing with players salaries and the cap, though we haven’t played serious snap of football under Joe’s last 2 years of work, I feel very lucky we have him.
I kind of feel the way I did when Parcells came over to shop for some groceries.

Jets71
Jets71
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Buell

I agree, there still needs to be wins but clearly the people in place are competent. They do deserve credit, this team was as poor on talent as any team in the NFL for decades, and the stench of losing was most ripe under Gase. It’s been painful but I haven’t felt this good about a season since 2010.

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
29 days ago
Reply to  Jets71

Neither have I, 71. Joe Douglass is very good and the last 2 drafts combined with trades for extra picks is even better.
. He does, however shine more brightly just because he knows his job when we’ve had some of the worst people in the executive offices in decades.
How they “lucked” into Douglass I don’t care..just happy he’s here.

Psi
Psi
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Buell

The brain surgeons insisting on JD being fired if Zach doesn’t work out are like drama addicts. It’s clear he’s upgraded the roster in a relatively short period of time. This group will still only go as far as the QB takes them, but I trust they’ll be realistic if Zach doesn’t measure up and not hold a noticeably more talented roster hostage to an ineffective QB.

mlesko73
mlesko73
1 month ago
Reply to  Psi

Totally agree.
Patience is a virtue, and we are close to being a sustainable contender. I hope w/ all my heart that Zach steps up, but if he doesnt, we make the next move. That move IS NOT firing the GM.

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
29 days ago
Reply to  mlesko73

100% on both of your 2 big points.

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
29 days ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Thanks..It seems like decades since we’ve had someone who is just competent so Douglass seems like a dream come true

Matt Galemmo
Matt Galemmo
1 month ago

I feel like that was probably a good explanation, but I still don’t get it. Don’t bother, it’s me, not you.

Here’s my question: did this restructure increase the likelihood of CJ being cut (post-designated or whatever) sooner? If so, why would his agent agree to that? Is it more money now?

Freedom1789
Freedom1789
1 month ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Thanks for adding this to the comments. I can see how it was “missing from the original article” but I think it is quite important that no player\agent agreement was required. I spent the entire article wondering why it would be agreed…Having said that, you have done a wonderful financial analysis of the why. Even as a recent subscriber, I have enjoyed your articles as you have added value to my subscription but more importantly my unfounded love for the JETS. Nothing about the player, but this was a horrible (original) contract as you mention. Bad financial decisions can only be managed, and with our need to add a LT, we needed more financial flexibility this year (as much as I personally hate backloading contracts).

mlesko73
mlesko73
1 month ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

I forgot to mention in my earlier post, THANK YOU for explaining this!
Another great piece.

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
29 days ago
Reply to  Matt Galemmo

It wouldnhave to be at least equal but that’s just a guess

Jets71
Jets71
1 month ago

Outstanding Rivka! This contract was going to be an issue as soon as he got hurt in that 3rd QTR vs. Buff. He was a monster that day too. The COVID situation didn’t help. Looks like Joe did the best he could to mitigate some of the financial and cap hit. I really don’t think there could be a better outcome at this point. Let’s hope he can still play.

Jets71
Jets71
1 month ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

I haven’t seen much of Sherwood but it does appear he’s improved a bit. I think they’ll be working on that LB group in the off-season.