- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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For the first time in five months, we have a Sunday without football. (It can be argued that the Pro Bowl isn't football, but we'll tackle that another day.) The focus in the NFL shifts to the offseason, which is built around money -- i.e. the salary cap.
Unlike last offseason, the New York Jets have enough flexibility under the cap to be active players in free agency. As of Feb. 3, they had an estimated $20.044 million in cap space, according to overthecap.com. That doesn't include tenders for restricted free agents and, obviously, the draft. This is a rough estimate, but the Jets' rookie pool figures to be anywhere from $5 million to $6 million; it could fluctuate, depending upon how many compensatory picks they receive.
The $20 million in cap space is a bit deceiving because it will grow as soon as they start releasing players. They will pick up $8.25 million when they release wide receiver Santonio Holmes. That alone could cover the draft and one free-agent signing. They will create another $9.5 million if they release cornerback Antonio Cromartie, a likely cap casualty.
They don't have to make an immediate move on quarterback Mark Sanchez, whose $2 million roster bonus isn't due until March 25. If they part ways with their former starter, the Jets will gain another $8.3 million in cap room if he's not designated as a "June 1" cut.
By dropping Sanchez, Cromartie and Holmes, the Jets would clear a total of $26 million, putting them more than $40 million under the cap.