New York Jets General Manager Joe Douglas is going to have some tough decisions to make this off-season in order to free up cap space. With numerous key players on expiring deals, there will be cap casualties as the front office gears up for 2023 free agency. That being said, here are the players who have the potential to be the Jets cap casualties in the coming months…
2023 New York Jets Potential Cap Casualties
Linebacker C.J. Mosley
This upcoming season, Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley is set to have the highest cap hit on the New York Jets roster. Due over $21 million, Joe Douglas has a big decision to make. Does he release one of the last remains of his predecessor Mike Maccagnan’s roster, or retain the second-team All-Pro?
At the end of the day, Mosley has become the rock of the Jets defense and the reality is New York is not ready to lose him. With his release, the Jets would take on over $14 million in dead cap charges, while only saving merely $6.5 million. Ideally, finding a common ground on a second restructure for Mosley since September are both sides’ best decision. After all, entering his age 31 season, Mosley is not getting any younger.
Saving Cap Space
Defensive End Carl Lawson
When the Jets signed Carl Lawson to a three-year, $45 million contract in 2021, they did not know he would miss his first season with the team due to injury. Nor could they have predicted how he would bounce back. In 2022, Lawson started all 17 games, though, was not the elite edge rusher Douglas had thought he signed. Lawson finished the year with seven sacks and only 26 pressures. For context, Lawson had 44 pressures the year before signing with the Jets. With money needed to pay Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers already under contract, and the presence of Jermaine Johnson II, the Jets can save $15 million by cutting Lawson.
Wide Receiver Corey Davis
Another player signed in the 2021 off-season, Corey Davis’ time with the Jets has also been plagued by injury. In two years, Davis has played in 22 games, totaling 66 receptions for 1,028 yards receiving and six touchdowns. Simply put, for someone who was signed to be a number one, or at least number two option in an offense, Davis has not justified his deal. Gang Green can save $10.5 million with his release, allowing Elijah Moore to uphold the number two receiver duties, or spend the money to acquire someone else via free agency or trade.
Wide Receiver Braxton Berrios
After earning first-team All-Pro honors for his return abilities and posting 471 yards and four touchdowns on offense in 2021, re-signing Braxton Berrios last off-season was a no-brainer. A year later and keeping Berrios on his current deal would be brutal. In 2023, Berrios only had 27 touches on offense for 236 yards and two touchdowns – all his lowest marks since he first arrived in 2019. Additionally, Berrios averaged seven yards fewer per kick return, and two fewer yards per punt return compared to his 2021 totals. With a cap hit of over $8.2 million in 2023, the Jets could release Berrios and save $5 million. Though Berrios is a talented returner and solid backup slot receiver, his performance last season is not worth his cap hit.
Offensive Tackle Duane Brown
Here is the puzzling decision on Duane Brown. His deal is through the 2023 season, and the team can save $5 million and bite the bullet on the extension bonuses in the years to come. The 16-year NFL veteran will be 38 next season and started all 12 games he played in for the Jets this past season. This is not the same five-time Pro Bowl player the league has seen over the past decade. With the injury mess that unfolded at the position for the Jets last year, the team needs a solution, not a bridge tackle. Accepting the dead cap charges Brown would bring does hurt, but so would Brown’s run blocking if he were to be starting in 2023.
Safety Ashtyn Davis
Even with a $3 million cap hit, the time has come for the Jets to move on from safety Ashtyn Davis. The 68th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft has not developed into the athletic, playmaking defensive back the Jets had hoped. Rather, after being a lineup regular in 2021, Davis saw the majority of his playtime this past season on special teams. The California product only had 13 snaps on defense compared to 278 on the special team’s unit. Thus, with well over $2.5 million in potential savings, bringing in an upgrade over Davis at safety would go a long way.
Offensive Guard Laken Tomlinson
Like Duane Brown, Laken Tomlinson is another puzzling case. With the structure of his contract, the Jets have an out if they are willing to take on $18 million in dead cap. Tomlinson, who was a Pro Bowl guard in 2021, was extremely underwhelming and inconsistent in 2022 for the Jets. Perhaps the Offensive Coordinator change to Nathaniel Hackett could help him improve. Or maybe just a second year in his new home. The bottom line – the Jets need to determine how they would approach replacing Tomlinson should they accept the dead cap that would come if they release him this off-season.
Safety Jordan Whitehead
The Jets safety play left a lot to be desired this past season, and Jordan Whitehead surely is not excused. One of the team’s big signings last year, Whitehead posted career-highs with 17 games played (all starts), 89 tackles, and 1,1130 snaps played on defense. At the same time, the Jets could save over $7 million by cutting Whitehead, unless they do not want to entirely demolish the safety room. Whitehead is a solid safety who will only be 26 years old in 2023. Keeping Whitehead around another year while upgrading at free safety would go a long way for the Jets safety tandem.
Punter Braden Mann
Lastly, the argument stands for the Jets to move on from punter Braden Mann. Selected in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft by Joe Douglas, Mann’s inconsistencies have become a major issue. He cost the team games this past season with horrendous boots in crucial field position moments. With Mann’s release, the Jets would save over $2.7 million, allowing them to bring in a more reliable leg. That is unless the coaching staff still has faith in the Texas A&M product. In that case, it is realistic that the team brings in another punter to compete with him during training camp.
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