Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Final Exam: No cap issues but big salaries
By Michael DiRocco
Each day this week I'll provide an answer to a key question facing the Jaguars in the offseason.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars are projected to be roughly $50 million under the salary cap in 2014, so GM David Caldwell doesn't have to worry about re-negotiating any deals or cutting high-priced players to fit under the cap.
But that doesn't mean the Jaguars don't have any out-of-whack salaries. They certainly do, and it begins with linebacker Paul Posluszny.
Posluszny is scheduled to count $9.5 million against the cap in 2014. Though he has been the Jaguars' best defensive player since he signed a six-year deal with the team in 2011 and is coming off his first Pro Bowl, that's a pretty significant cap number for a middle linebacker. In fact, he'll be the Jaguars' highest-paid player in 2014.
That's not much of an issue now because the Jaguars don't have a high-paid quarterback, receiver or defensive back to worry about within the next few years. But Posluszny will count $9.5 million against the cap in 2015 and $7.5 million against the cap in 2016 and those are numbers that are too high and it's likely the team will try to re-work the deal at some point after 2014.
Tight end Marcedes Lewis will be the Jaguars' second-highest paid player in 2014 with a cap number of $8.35 million. It appeared during the 2013 season that Lewis would be a cap casualty because he missed nearly six full games with a calf injury and really didn't make much of an impact in the passing game when he did return. But he was certainly a weapon over the final five games, catching 16 passes for 242 yards and four touchdowns.
Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch got Lewis more involved over the final five weeks and with a full season in the lineup Lewis could reach 50 catches in 2014.
Even so, it'd be a surprise if Lewis were back in 2015 because he is scheduled to count $8.3 million against the cap and that's a lot of money to invest in a tight end not named Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski.
Other players with high cap numbers in 2014 are defensive end Jason Babin ($6.175 million), right guard Uche Nwaneri ($5.894 million) and receiver Justin Blackmon ($5.048 million). Babin led the Jaguars with 7.5 sacks in 2013 but he's making elite defensive end money and he's not an elite defensive end. He has said he'd be willing to re-negotiate his contract because he likes it in Jacksonville, but he also can declare himself a free agent because of a clause in the new CBA.
It'd be a surprise if Babin is on the roster in 2014 under his current contract.
Blackmon is under an indefinite suspension and won't count against the cap unless he is reinstated. He can apply to commissioner Roger Goodell for reinstatement before the 2014 season begins.