Teams haven't had to deal with a salary cap since 2009, but starting probably next week (assuming the CBA talks wrap up as expected), the cap will be back in a big way -- and the Jets will have to create room if they want to be active in free agency.
According to ESPN colleague John Clayton, the Jets will be $1.295 million over the projected $120 million cap. (Get this: In terms of actual payroll -- different from the cap -- the Jets have a league-high $123.85 million.) The proposed CBA gives each team a $3 million cap exemption that can be applied to one player. When that is applied, the Jets will be about $1.7 million under -- not enough space to do some serious business.
Before they start cutting players (Bryan Thomas?), the Jets can create room by renegotiating/restructuring existing contracts. Let's start with the following three players:
QB Mark Sanchez .... $16.5 million cap number (includes $13.5 million base salary)
CB Darrelle Revis .... $11.3 million cap number ($25 million in total compensation)
LB David Harris .... $10.4 million cap number
Right now, these three are taking up about 32 percent of the team's cap space. That's not good cap management. Certainly, Sanchez and Revis are candidates for restructuring. Harris, who signed his one-year franchise tender, probably will receive a long-term deal that will lower his cap number.