New York Jets salary cap outlook: David Harris is being paid like a Top 3 linebacker

Brian McIntyre
Shutdown Corner

The "Shutdown Countdown" is going full steam ahead. In addition to previewing each team, "Shutdown Corner" will be taking a brief look at each team's salary cap situation heading into the 2013 season and beyond. We continue the series with the New York Jets.

2013 Adjusted Cap Number: $126.529 million (17th-largest in the NFL)

2013 Cap Room Remaining: $9.964 million (11th-most in the NFL). The Jets still have three draft choices to sign, all of whom were selected in the Top 40 of the 2013 draft. Combined, first-round picks Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson, along with second-round quarterback Geno Smith, will have first-year cap hits totaling $5,042,673. Those three deals will be among the "Top 51" contracts, which will leave the Jets with about $6.4 million in cap space.

Best Bargain: 2011 first-round pick Muhammad Wilkerson is a versatile, occasionally dominant presence on the Jets' defensive line. Over his first two seasons in the NFL, Wilkerson has started 31 of 32 games, totaling 118 tackles, including 20 for a loss, with eight sacks, six passes defensed and four forced fumbles. As the No. 30 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Wilkerson is entering the third year of a four-year, $6.875 million rookie contract that will pay him $1 million in base salary this season.

Potential Camp Cap Casualty: First-year general manager John Idzik has already made most of the potential cuts, terminating the contracts of Sione Po'uha, Calvin Pace, Bart Scott, Eric Smith and Jason Smith, moves that would have taken place regardless of who the GM was. The Jets have also restructured the contracts of D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Antonio Cromartie to create cap space so those two players are not going anywhere this season.

The one contract that has thus far been left alone belongs to inside linebacker David Harris, who is due $10.9 million in base salary (second-highest among linebackers) with a team-high $13 million cap charge, which ranks third among all NFL linebackers. Few would place Harris among the Top 5, or even Top 10 linebackers in the NFL entering this season, so the Jets may look to address this contract before the season starts on Sept. 8.

Looming Contract Issue: The Jets had no choice but to pay $8.75 million to Mark Sanchez this season, but the club will regain control of his contract situation after the season.

Sanchez, who will have to earn the starting job in an open competition with second-round pick Geno Smith, is due $11.5 million in 2014, but none of that amount is guaranteed. The Jets will have until the 15th day of the 2014 league year to decide on whether or not to pick up a $2 million roster bonus in the contract. Releasing Sanchez next offseason would save $11.5 million in cash and $8.3 million in cap space in 2014.

On the third day of the 2014 league year, Cromartie is due a $5 million roster bonus. Releasing Cromartie, who turns 30 next April, would save $9.5 million in cash and cap space. On that same day, wide receiver Santonio Holmes is due a $1 million roster bonus. Releasing Holmes, who turns 30 on March 3, 2014, would save $8 million in cash and $8.25 million in cap space next season.

Long-Term Cash/Cap Outlook: Once the Jets sign their top three picks in the 2013 draft, they'll have 56 players signed for the 2014 season. Those contracts will have around $109 million in cap commitments, a number that could be much lower depending on what Idzik & Co. decides to do with Sanchez, Holmes and Cromartie.

Previous salary cap outlooks

32. Oakland Raiders
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
30. Arizona Cardinals
29. Buffalo Bills
28. Cleveland Browns
27. Tennessee Titans
26. Kansas City Chiefs

What to Read Next