And so the salary cap purge of 2009 officially begins. As teams race to settle their contract issues before Feb. 27, the New York Jets made their first player personnel decision of the Rex Ryan regime and released ninth-year veteran David Barrett.
The cornerback had just completed his fifth season with the Jets, and was a free agent acquisition when Herm Edwards and Terry Bradway were running the show.
Barrett’s time in New York ranged from solid starter to downright awful. He found ways to be around the ball and record interceptions. Unfortunately, he also found ways to miss key tackles and let receivers run routes right through him.
As the Jets begin preparations for a more favorable financial situation, it’s only natural to wonder who else New York is looking to remove from the roster. Releasing Barrett is only the first step as the move frees up around $3.6 million
History has proven that the decisions an organization must make during these times aren’t always the most favorable. Fan-favorites and critical role players face situations where job security races to the forefront of their minds.
With that understood, releasing Barrett was only a minor piece of a larger puzzle that remains jumbled in front of us.
As the clock races to Feb. 27, who else could the Jets be looking to part ways with to sit comfortably under the salary cap when the free agency pool opens up?
QB Brett Favre
Smart money is betting on Favre retiring within the next couple of weeks. But if you’re still a betting man in this economy, then shame be upon you! Truth is, no one knows what Brett Favre is thinking as he piles up the animal carcasses in Mississippi.
But the Jets thoughts should be focused on one thing: releasing Favre at 11:59pm on Feb. 26 if he hasn’t come to a decision by then.
New York is not Wisconsin. The Jets organization should not be restricted by the same perverted sense of loyalty to Favre that allowed him to keep his circus act going in Green Bay for four years longer than it should have.
With Favre completely unavailable to even discuss a contract renegotiation, the gunslinger is holding the Jets hostage. It’s time to wriggle free, cut the ropes, and then his contract.
There’s a lot that can be done with Favre’s $13 million.
That includes putting together a team that can finish at 9-7 with an inexperienced QB, too.
LB David Bowens
Unfortunately, Bowens could find himself in the sea of free agents this offseason, too. He’s one of the Jets better players whose year of birth disagrees with his cap number in 2009.
According to NYJetsCap.com, Bowens is scheduled to earn $2.7 million next season—a number far too high for a Jets team loaded at linebacker, and in need of cash to fill other holes.
He was signed for his experience and versatility in the Mangini era, and as a special-teams captain it’s difficult to have to part ways with an influential veteran.
But the money that will be made available could go towards signing a player who can contribute at a higher level.
TE Chris Baker
After demanding his way to a new contract in 2008, Chris Baker quietly had one of the most ineffective years of his career.
Baker was the recipient of a generous extension after being vocal about his unhappiness with his contract during training camp last summer.
The front office leaned in his favor and rewarded with him new money for the 2008 season. Baker responded by posting his lowest totals since 2004.
With no touchdowns, less than 200 receiving yards in a 16-game season, and the emergence of Dustin Keller, Baker can very well find his $2.35 million taken off the books.
As a blocking tight end he’s a better option than Keller at the moment. But slips in overtime against the Oakland Raiders and his overall absence from productivity in 2008 combine to make Baker’s contract seem gratuitous.
RG Brandon Moore
Out of all the potential cuts, this one hurts most. Offensive line chemistry is not something to be tampered with.
It’s an area the Jets placed a premium on in 2008. There is a lot of money invested in that unit. Add to that, the potential replacements behind Brandon Moore aren’t exactly a “Who’s Who” of starting caliber athletes.
But Moore’s $5.6 million against the cap is real. He had a strong, yet quiet regular season. Unfortunately, the quiet part may work against him.
Regardless, the focus shouldn’t be on cutting Brandon Moore, but on making his salary more favorable to the salary cap. If he would be willing to take a pay cut of about $3 million, he’d be doing a great service to the Jets.
Maybe… Just Because?
Someone smart once said, “It’s the little things that count.”
That definitely wasn’t a woman, but it is a great piece of logic that could apply beautifully to the Jets efforts this year. Splashes aren’t always necessary—especially not when there’s money to be saved in drips.
If the Jets were to look deep into the roster to find savings, they’d come up with Sione Pouha, James Dearth, Brad Kassell, Drew Coleman, Eric Smith, Wayne Hunter, Noah Herron, and Reggie Hodges.
Those players are a combination of men who have received rotational playing time, have specific special-teams functions, and do…other things. Releasing those eight players would free up a little less than $5 million.
Granted, not all of them are feasible. Many believe James Dearth is a wasted roster spot, but the value of a quality long-snapper is always underestimated until a team needs one.
The Jets don’t have to worry about snaps flying over the kickers’ heads. But $945,000 for a small specialty position feels exorbitant in these trying times.
Sione Pouha, Drew Coleman, and Brad Kassell all find the field in defensive rotations, but all of them are places the Jets can afford to upgrade and address through the draft.
While the cap hasn’t been cemented in stone for 2009, the Jets were expected to be $10 million over the projection. With the release of David Barrett, New York should now be over the cap by a little over $6 million.
If the suggested cuts do happen, the Jets will have saved approximately $26 million, leaving them with more than enough money to sign their draft picks, and maybe cause a ripple or two in free agency.
Naturally, the biggest chunk of that comes from Favre’s presumed retirement. But it’s a substantial chunk that will allow New York to bring in the best talent this offseason.