6 players Jets could cut to create salary cap space for the 2021 season

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Ralph Vacchiano
·4 min read
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Jamison Crowder runs with the ball in green Jets jersey
Jamison Crowder runs with the ball in green Jets jersey

The NFL salary cap is expected to drop for the first time in its history, possibly to as low as $175 or $180 million – $20-to-25 million below where it was this past season. That could put several teams in a bit of a cap crunch.

The Jets are most definitely not one of those teams.

In fact, their cap situation is so good that they could cut absolutely no one, watch the cap bottom out, and still have about $65 million in salary cap space to spend in free agency. That will make them one of the richest teams on the market when it opens on March 17.

In fact, they could make some easy cuts and, if the cap settles in at something more like $185 million, the Jets could end up with nearly $100 million to spend.

They have more than enough to do whatever they want – re-sign safety Marcus Maye, add a No. 1 receiver, find a pass-rusher. They could even fit in that three-time Pro Bowl quarterback in Houston, if they wanted to pursue a trade.

Chances are that they will still make a few financial moves to help their cause, even though they don’t have to do it.

Here’s a look at some of the players who could end up as “cap cuts” over the next few weeks (with numbers provided by OverTheCap.com)...

DE Henry Anderson – He had seven sacks in 2018 and the Jets responded by signing him to a three-year, $25.2 million contract extension the day before free agency in 2019. It seemed like a good idea for a guy who had cost them only a seventh-round pick in a trade. But since then he’s had 1 ½ sacks in 21 games over two seasons, and he’ll be 30 in August. Even teams with plenty of cap room can’t devote $9.5 million to a player like that. Possible cap savings: $8.2 million.

WR Jamison CrowderThere is no doubt Crowder can be a valuable slot man. He had 59 catches for 699 yards and six touchdowns in just 12 games this past season, and he’s turning only 28 in June. But he’s not the explosive weapon former Jets head coach Adam Gase thought he would be. Plus, the Jets are likely to add a receiver or two in free agency and the draft. Keeping Crowder isn’t a bad idea. Keeping him with a cap number of $11.375 million is. Possible cap savings: $10.375 million.

G Alex Lewis – He is a favorite of GM Joe Douglas, who gave him a three-year, $18.6 million contract last March. But he wasn’t good last season, and then he missed the final six games while dealing with personal issues. With the Jets likely to revamp their offensive line again this offseason, and with guard Joe Thuney a likely free agent target, Lewis could be the odd man out. With a cap number of $6.9 million, he’s a pay-cut candidate at the very least. Possible cap savings: $5.2 million.

G Greg Van Roten – He’s theoretically in the same place on the chopping block as Lewis, especially since he’s about to turn 31 and coming off an up-and-down season. His cap number of $3.65 million is far more manageable, though, and the savings aren’t as much. Possible cap savings: $3.4 million.

TE Ryan Griffin – If the San Francisco 49ers' offense is any indication, tight ends are going to be a big part of the Jets’ offense under new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. Could he find a use for the 31-year-old Griffin? Maybe, though it’s hard to judge his value with the way Gase ignored tight ends. Griffin did have 34 catches and five touchdowns in 2019, but was a non-entity in 2020 (nine catches, 86 yards). The Jets can probably find a better option, considering Griffin will cost $3.3 million against the cap. Possible cap savings: $1.8 million

RT George Fant – After some early struggles, he played better as the season went along. He’s on this list, though, because of his cap number of $9.35 million and because it’s unclear how Douglas will remake the line this offseason. If he pursues a tackle instead of a guard in free agency, it doesn’t make sense to keep Fant at starter’s money. But it will be hard to just throw this powerful, 6-6, 322-pounder away. Possible cap savings: $7.35 million