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NY Jets must extend key player’s contract this offseason

Michael Carter II
Michael Carter II

The New York Jets must give this player a contract extension

Amidst all the talk of acquisitions and extensions in the New York Jets’ offseason, one player has gotten lost in the shuffle. This player is pivotal to the Jets’ defensive success, though, and must be taken care of this offseason.

Michael Carter II, the Jets’ slot cornerback, is entering the final season of his deal. Although Sauce Gardner, Quinnen Williams, Bryce Huff, D.J. Reed, and others get all the hype on the Jets’ defense, Carter II has performed at a high level with the Jets for longer than all of them.

Carter II is one of Joe Douglas’ rare late-round draft success stories. He was drafted in the fifth round in 2021 with the No. 154 overall pick. He has been the Jets’ starting slot corner ever since.

2022-23 numbers

Carter II has taken off over the past two seasons. After a solid rookie year, he became a top-three slot corner in the NFL. From 2022-23, among 51 defensive backs with at least 200 coverage snaps out of the slot, here are Carter’s statistics and ranks, per NFL Next Gen Stats.

  • 623 cover snaps (3rd)
  • 119 targets (2nd)
  • 1.087 yards per cover snap (13th)
  • 3.2 touchdowns per 1000 cover snaps (8th)
  • -0.175 EPA per target (8th)
  • 63.9% coverage success rate (2nd)
  • 5.7 yards per target (10th)
  • 29.4% tight-window percentage (2nd)
  • -6.2 receptions allowed over expected (2nd)
  • -5.2% completion percentage over expected (11th)
  • 74.8 targeted quarterback rating (5th)

In other words, Carter is one of the most successful slot defenders in the league. In 2023, he was one of the best cornerbacks in the whole league, ranking fourth out of 77 qualified corners (min. 375 cover snaps) with 0.594 yards allowed per cover snap.

Carter continues to be overlooked when it comes to honors and awards. Bigger names like the Bills’ Taron Johnson and the Chiefs’ Trent McDuffie earned All-Pro honors, but Carter II was just as prolific as both of them.

Extension?

The Jets must extend Carter now or be forced to place the franchise tag on him in the 2024 offseason. The projected franchise tag for cornerbacks in 2024 is $18.4 million, which means it’ll be somewhat higher in 2025. The Jets do not want to be stuck carrying that number on their cap until they work out an extension with Carter.

Therefore, they should work out an extension with him this offseason. The biggest question is what such a contract would look like. There aren’t too many cornerbacks in the NFL classified exclusively as slot corners, and among those who are, most are either not that good or are still on rookie deals. Therefore, trying to find a comparison is challenging.

Here are some slot corners who signed contracts or extensions over the past few seasons.

  • Taron Johnson, BUF: 2019, age 25, 3 years, $24 million, $13.75 million guaranteed, $8 million APY
  • Kenny Moore, IND: 2019, age 24, 4 years, $33 million, $9 million guaranteed, $8.25 million APY
  • Avonte Maddox, PHI: 2021, age 25, 3 years, $22.5 million, $8.97 million guaranteed, $7.5 million APY
  • Mike Hilton, CIN: 2021, age 27, 4 years, $24 million, $6 million guaranteed, $6 million APY

There is no true comparison from the last few seasons. It appears that the typical APY is somewhere between $6-8 million per season. Carter will likely command a little more because of the passing time, but not much more.

Therefore, a reasonable contract term would likely be 3-4 years at $8.5 million APY. Three years, $25.5 million with $15 million guaranteed, or four years, $34 million with $19 million guaranteed sounds about right.

The Jets will run into much more challenging situations when it comes time to pay Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Jermaine Johnson, and others. Carter should be an easier decision, though: get the contract done.

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Jim G
Jim G
4 months ago

I agree 100%, he is cheaper to extend than to replace.

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