The Mike F. White saga in NY is in jeopardy
New York Jets fans love Mike White. New York Jets players love Mike White. The New York Jets coaching staff loves Mike White.
But the Jets’ salary cap? It might not love Mike White so much.
After White’s three-game stretch in which he looked like a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL, multiple cracked ribs produced a two-game absence followed by a forgettable performance against the Seahawks. White sat out the season finale against the Dolphins, having aggravated his rib injury.
The ending of the season was sour, but ESPN’s Rich Cimini believes that White’s three-game sample size was enough to earn him some sizable cash.
An interesting development:
Rich Cimini of ESPN believes #Jets free agent QB Mike White "can command anywhere from $4 million to $8 million" on the open market.
— Paul Andrew Esden Jr (@BoyGreen25) January 31, 2023
Mike White stated in his end-of-year interviews that he believes he is a starting quarterback. Cimini projects that White would be paid like one, at least when you discount the fact that a significant number of the NFL’s starters are on rookie deals.
As much as the Jets love White, he may well be cost-prohibitive for them. Robert Saleh stated openly that the team plans to pursue a veteran quarterback. Whether that guy is Aaron Rodgers ($15.8 million cap hit in 2023), Derek Carr ($33 million), Jimmy Garoppolo (likely $30-35 million), or someone else, it is difficult to imagine that Joe Douglas can afford to also pay a backup low-end starter money. This is compounded when you consider that Zach Wilson is a pretty strong bet to be on the roster in Week 1 due to his $9.7 million 2023 cap hit and $20 million dead cap figure. The team cannot pay three starting QBs.
Now, it’s possible that Joe Douglas allocates $4 million per year to White and finds a way to trade Wilson after June 1, thereby reducing the dead cap number to $5 million and saving about $4.7 million from Wilson’s deal. That would give them enough breathing room to carry White, but it would be very tight cap-wise until then—and that’s assuming that the Jets could find a trade partner willing to take on Wilson’s contract, as well as that they actually do want to trade him, contrary to their stated intent to develop him.
However, the odds are that the Jets are forced to move on. They just have to hope that the potential White flashed over a three-game sample does not come back to haunt them from a different NFL franchise.