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Prospect of an Uncapped 2010 Now Looms

Posted by Eric Allen on February 8, 2010 – 6:29 pm

What we have in the National Football League is confusion and what we all hope for is clarity.

Since the owners opted out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement last May, no progress has been made in talks with the players’ union. The league is headed for an uncapped 2010 season, which will commence on March 5.

And let’s be honest — there probably aren’t going to be any last-minute deals because both sides have dug in for a long battle. You might have a better shot of going to Las Vegas tonight with $1 savings and coming home with $100,000.

“Our focus is on trying to get an agreement as soon as we possibly can," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last week. "Before there is any kind of a work stoppage or any of the [2011] scenarios … we still have a lot of time and a lot of important opportunities here to structure something that makes sense for everybody.

“And as I said, we’re committed and we’re determined to do that. Our focus is on the immediate future. In the next 30 days or so, we’ll be going into an uncapped year if we are not successful. A lot of players will be affected by that. We’d like to see if something can get done.”

As it stands right now, the Jets have seven players — LS James Dearth, DE Marques Douglas, K Jay Feely, LB Ryan Fowler, TE Ben Hartsock, LB/special teamer Larry Izzo and FB Tony Richardson — who will become unrestricted free agents on March 5. The Jets, one of four teams who participated in the conference championship games, won’t be able to sign any UFAs themselves unless one of the aforementioned seven signs with another club.

“We can’t sign one until we would lose one, and again, that’s someone whose contract expires and they have been in the league for six or more seasons,” said GM Mike Tannenbaum. “If a player gets cut by another team, they become a free agent and we would be able to sign them.”

The Jets don’t have a large group of UFAs because only players who have been in the league six years or more will qualify for free agency in 2010. Before we turn our attention to restricted free agents (RFAs), there is a salary-matching component to this whole UFA situation.

For example, let’s say one of the above Jets veterans becomes a UFA and signs a three-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons for $1 million in year one, $1.3 million in year two and $1.9 million in year three. The Jets could in turn sign one player themselves, but his first-year salary couldn’t be more than the $1 million the former Jets vet received, and then the club would be limited to a 30 percent jump from that original $1 million each additional season. So the Jets could go as high as $1.3 million in year two and then $1.6 million in year three.

Even if the Jets wanted to make a play for a Julius Peppers-type player, the likelihood of that happening would be slim and none. If the Panthers don’t sign Pep to an extension or place the franchise tag on the star before Feb. 25, he’s going to be a UFA and will want to be the highest paid defensive player in the NFL. Also, ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently reported that the Jets may work on an extension for the game’s best CB, Darrelle Revis.

The Jets’ group of restricted free agents stands at 11 — QB Kellen Clemens, CB Drew Coleman, WR Braylon Edwards, DT Howard Green, T Wayne Hunter, S James Ihedigbo, WR Brad Smith, S Eric Smith, RB-KR Leon Washington and WR-special teams ace Wallace Wright. Although the deadline for the Green & White to tender qualifying offers is March 4, Mr. T. already announced that the club is “definitely” going to tender Washington, Edwards was a “similar situation” to the explosive back and Clemens would receive a tender as well.

By placing a tender on a restricted free agent, the Jets protect themselves from losing that player in a couple of ways. Other teams can make contract offers to the Jets’ 11 RFAs from March 5-April 15, but New York’s AFC representative would have one week to match anything that was signed, with the last possible matching date landing on April 21. If the Jets choose not to match an offer, they would receive compensation in the form of a draft pick or picks determined by the player’s tender and draft selection.

“We need a little bit more time,” Tannenbaum said when asked about what tender Washington would receive. “There are some fairly complicated rules in terms of draft classes and who you can tender at what level, so we will take a close look at that as well.”

According to an Associated Press report, there are more than 200 players who would have been UFAs and now will be RFAs under these new rules. And there are some big-time names in that category around the league, including WR Vincent Jackson and LB Shawne Merriman of the Chargers, WR Brandon Marshall and DE Elvis Dumervil of the Broncos, Cowboys WR Miles Austin, Texans LB DeMeco Ryans, Colts S Antoine Bethea, Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown, Vikings DE Ray Edwards, Redskins QB Jason Campbell, and Bucs RB Carnell “Cadillac” Williams.

Even if a new CBA was miraculously reached before March 5, the NFL would probably have to implement a transition rule that would apply for those players who were going to be RFAs before the deal was reached but then became UFAs afterward. But with no agreement, the league will enter into an uncapped year and teams will have no spending limit. Keep in mind that teams can release players with no cap consequence in 2010, but it should be noted Mr. T. has already said LB Vernon Gholston, the No. 6 selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, will return.

The Jets are not going to throw money around like they’re printing it down in the equipment room. RB Thomas Jones and S Kerry Rhodes are reportedly due bonuses and there are decisions to be made with both players. Then you’ve got the case of CB Lito Sheppard, who’s reportedly owed a huge contract bonus in March.

“You still have budgets you have to hit. You still have targets that you have to be at,” Tannenbaum said. “Also, we don’t know what the new system will be and you have to be prepared that you can transition from uncapped to capped. I certainly don’t know what [a deal] might look like, so we have to be prepared for that as well.

"These are always tough judgment calls and we will always do what’s best for the Jets.”

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Posted in Eric Allen | 43 Comments »

43 Responses to “Prospect of an Uncapped 2010 Now Looms”

  1. By russ on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    just try not to kill the Goose….you know we all “deserve” more……

  2. By Ira on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    EA, Good stuff. All this Peppers talk is unrealistic. The Jets will build through the draft and like you mentioned take care of their own business in house especially maybe signing Harris, Mangold, Revis and Brick to long term deals. This way they can front load their contracts and take advantage of an uncapped year. Give TJ his bonus and then restructure his deal to a 2 yr contract.

  3. By Anthony on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Resign Leon, Edwards, B.Smith, T. Richardson. But we need another Corner , a DE, a RB, and we need to look at recievers. I say RB because Jones is almost done. He really died out at the end of the year.

  4. By serge on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    If it is at all possible the jets should make a play for saftey D.Shaper of the N.O. Saints then bundle K.Rhodes, B.Thomas, L.Sheppard, and Strickland with a possible draft pick to try and make a deal for the Oakland Raiders CB (asomugha nnamdi). We would have our CB opposite D.Rivis and a more talented saftey then K.Rhodes and at the same time get rid of players we should rid ourselves of anyway

  5. By Alex on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Are they going to try and restructure Vernon Gholston’s deal?

  6. By uncle joe on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    I have the utmost confidence that if there is any way to exploit these rules my main man Mr.T (the best GM in the league) will figure it out and will be financially supported 100% by the best owner in the NFL who will stop at nothing to make us the BEST.Once again,Thank You Mr.Tannenbaum & ThankYou Mr. Johnson. And as it happens we will read about it first Right here on the best WebSite.

  7. By Ira on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    EA, ? since there will not be a cap this year i quess teams will not have to cut players until July/August or will they start to cut players right away this spring if they know they don’t want to keep them around if their contracts are to high?

  8. By uncle joe on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Hey EA or Randy,how bout a countdown up top till the Season Opening KickOff.Is it me or was that SuperBowl Lame.We don’t need Big Name Free Agents,our Coach can make anybody Great,in fact,I think he has better success with undrafted players and players who don’t make it on other teams.We used to watch our players go somewhere else & play great,now it is OUR TURN

  9. By Damone on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply


  10. By 37 year fan on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Yes on Demeco Ryans . We need another killer linebacker.

  11. By Robert Klausner on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Eric – Thanks for explaining the Jet’s rights (or lack thereof) to sign UFA. You didn’t mention, however, if there are any restriction on the Jets to sign RFA (other than the normal compensation restrictions applicable to all teams). Please explain.

  12. By scjoe on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    I agree “kind of” with the restrictions put on the playoff teams, to keep competitive balance, but why not ALL of the playoff teams? We now have SD who finished winning their division and going 13-3 able to sign FAs add in Dallas, NE, Cinn and Ariz, all who were division winners with better winning percentages then the Jets and all are able to sign FAs. Is that the right approach?

  13. By 37 year fan on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    That list of unrestricted free agents is frightening. I do not want to lose those guys.

  14. By Brandon on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    In football, players frequently get injured. While I see the Jets trading up and getting some star players it seems to me that the Jets need more average players who don’t earn a lot. The Colts and Bill Polian are supposedly very good at spotting young upcoming players, such as walk ons and those cut by other teams.
    How will the Jets find some more Jim Leonards (good affordable players)?

  15. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    TJ, Rhodes, Sheppard, KC, Coleman, Ihedigbo, Green, Hunter, and maybe Brad Smith can all go while we can still get some real value for them. None of them are the future, none of them are all that essential. This becomes clear if you simply imagine the Jets picking up a few of the other RFAs around the league who are available (Jackson, Marshall, Dumervil, Brown, Austin, Edwards).

  16. By 37 year fan on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Dante Stallworth also got released . We could use him .

  17. By Eric Allen on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Flattery will get you nowhere, uncle joe.

  18. By Eric Allen on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Robert, we have seen no similar restrictions on signing restricted free agents to offer sheets this off-season.

  19. By Rob on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    EA, if the uncapped year is what happens, will Mr. T be able to “front load” contracts for TJ and others? This could minimize the cap hits for the 2011 and beyond seasons while paying the players deserving of their money. Is there a clause against this type of strategy?

  20. By Ira on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Sorry man don’t want Stallworth. Don’t need players who have problems like he has.
    Are you kidding? Westhoff loves Digs and he is one of their best ST players along with the multi-purpose B. Smith. Hunter adds depth to the o-lne and TJ is the leader of this team.

  21. By kara green on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    I think it is plain and clear that in a uncapped year with no penalty for releasing players, that Vernon Gholston has to be let go. Ihedigbo should get a mid level tender, he showed he can play defense and dominate special teams. I can see him having a breakout season next year. What you think Randy?

  22. By In Enemy Territory on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    I really hope people don’t think the Jets are going to get a new RB. What they can and probably will do is re-sign Leon and look to the future with Shonn Greene. As for Brad Smith, keep him as an extremely versatile and explosive option playmaker. Other than that, they do need a decent coverage corner, a quick DE, and another receiver, even if that other receiver is Edwards.

  23. By Christopher on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    37 year fan…yeah get Stallworth and Plaxico so they can all tell stories about being locked up. C’mon we don’t need those players. I would keep Edwards, we have J-Co, what we need is a slot receiver, a 3rd down Wayne Cherbet\Wes Welker type player. Or convert J-Co to a slot receiver and go after a #2 WR. If we want to make a move, we should go after Elvis Dumervil or Ray Edwards.

  24. By donjemo on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    With the Raiders hurting as much as they are, they are going to need players and draft picks. Jets should give up their first and late pick or player(s) for Asomugha. Even with the second best DB in the NFL, the Raiders can’t win games – but as a Jet alongside Revis – ouch!

  25. By JetsBatt1 on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    I read these comments every night. Tom who’s been a fan since 1732 is getting on my nerves. We need TJ, Leon, BradS, etc. etc.–does this guy think we can pay highschool recruits $100 and tell them to don the green & white then go win SB55–lay off the whiskey-we need our guys.

  26. By JOHNNY on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply


  27. By Rafael on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Hey EA or Randy, how does this uncapped year affect long term deals? I’m not sure how exactly an NFL contract needs to be structured, but could they be heavily front loaded? If the Jets were to sign Harris, Mangold & Revis to extensions this offseason. Could they essentially pay a boat load of their money all next year. Which will in effect lower the cap hit they take in concluding years?

  28. By Rafael on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    The comments need to be longer! Harris, Mangold & Revis will need to be paid like all pros. So if they can front load everything into next year. The salaries after that will remain low, letting the Jets sign other top notch guys down the road. Do you think they can get it done like that or will a new CBA agreement prevent them from that?

  29. By IRISHJET on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Jets fan since 64 has no clue what he is talking about. let go of all of those players? lay off the sauce,it’s making you stay statements that make no sense.keep your core players that got us to the a.f.c. championship,period. add some pieces,sure,but for the jets it is not going to be the kind of off season like 2 years ago when we broke the bank,and that’s ok.

  30. By Eric Allen on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Rafael, I’m not a capologist, especially an uncapped-year capologist. But we’ll be talking with GM Mike Tannenbaum and director of football administration Ari Nissim in the coming weeks.

  31. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Ira, considering we lost to MIA on two kickoff returns, we might rethink who Westhoff loves and doesn’t. But sure, I’m not against Digs but there are guys we can lose who we might get something for, like TJ (who sure wasn’t leading anything the last few games). JetsBatt 1, I’m nothin’ next to the guys who went to Titans games but read my comment, I didn’t say lose Leon and I said maybe on B Smith.

  32. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    My larger point, Ira and JetsBatt 1, is that we shouldn’t get hung up over guys who are okay in minor roles, which I think you sorta did with, say, Hunter, Ira. You can’t tell me that you’d take most of the guys I listed over a bunch of draft picks. Look at the way the Pats did it last year, getting a ton of picks and losing second-tier guys before they’re done. In 2 years TJ will be like LT now.

  33. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    While I admit Italians like me seem to have as much trouble as the Irish in laying off the sauce, IRISHJET, I didn’t mean we MUST dump all those guys. I meant we shouldn’t get sentimentally attached to guys who aren’t that critical, a bad Jet habit spanning from Mike Taliaferro to Danny Woodhead. And we certainly shouldn’t overpay them, given the kind of guys (Asomugha) who now want to be Jets!

  34. By scjoe on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Some of you who are talking about going after a couple of the top FAs this off season don’t seem to remember the new rule being put in place this year about restricting the final four playoff contenders to signing FAs unless they lose one first, and THEN only around the same pay rate. Remember, the Jets do not have any “high priced” UFAs so there goes that theory. Mr T will have to get innovative.

  35. By 37 year fan on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Bottom line- we have a good team . But our running backs and linebackers got a little too beat up by the end . We need to add to those spots . Get a little bit deeper on the bench. Also another great reciever would be nice.

  36. By Rafael on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks for replying Randy. I understand. I’m sure they’ll change the rules some for an uncapped year. But this could actually help the Jets long term if Mr. Johnson is willing to pay out alot of cash for next year. Trader Mike certainly knows how to handle the cap well. But he’s proven to be much more than that. It’s good that he listens to his people working the football side of things.

  37. By serge on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    The jets could also move JCO to the slot then try for Brandon Marshal(if it does not cost to much). I have been saying get J.Peppers, D.Shaper and try to make a deal for Asomugha Nnamdi throw in some of our players as insentive(K.Rhodes, B.Thomas, L.Sheppard, V.Gholston, Strickland, E.Smith, Clowney, K.Clements) are some of the names we can throw out there even T.Jones as a deal sweetener

  38. By jetfan74 on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    I hear a lot of PC statements and am willing to bet that a few of our beloved JETS will either get chopped or lost in free agency. Some of you have to face the fact that Leon is not worth the money he wants so his tender will be reasonable enough for someone to part w/ picks. TJ, put a fork in him! Both Smiths, Ihedigbo, wright, and naturally Edwards(2 draft picks) will all be back. Goodbye Rhodes

  39. By Jacque on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    To Randy Lange:
    So this means the jets can’t sign a big name this offseason? Unless we get rid of Braylon, because I believe his contract is 10 Mil, and if we let him go someone would most likely sign him for 5 Mil. So we could get a player for 5 Mil, or 10 Mil, or did I screw this up? And if we let Lito or Vernon go, we could get someone for their contract or what someone signs them for?

  40. By Jets4Life on Feb 11, 2010 | Reply

    WR Braylon Edwards, T Wayne Hunter, S James Ihedigbo, WR Brad Smith, S Eric Smith, RB-KR Leon Washington and Wallace Wright…In my opinion should be brought back..Ihedigbo is beastly, Smith versitile, Edwards deep threat, Leon because he’s so explosive, Wright because he know’s what he’s doing and knows the plan… just my opinions..

  41. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Feb 11, 2010 | Reply

    Like your honesty, jetfan74. It’ll be at least this year before we know if Leon can really play again and he wasn’t an every-down RB even when he was healthy, so his salary demands were out of line. The Jets apparently didn’t let on how serious TJ’s knee injury was — at least, judging by how bad he looked against the Colts — but he’s not gonna to get any faster. All reasons why we need more RBs.

  42. By Eric Allen on Feb 11, 2010 | Reply

    Jacque, from what we understand, the Jets as a final-four team can sign an unrestricted free agent only after they lose one, and for no more than the first-year money of the UFA lost (base salary plus prorated signing bonus). But if the Jets were to release a veteran whose contract is not up this year, they don’t get to sign a UFA in his place.

  43. By I bleed green on Feb 12, 2010 | Reply

    The Jets need to get a true pass rusher like julius peppers to help the team getting more sacks. Imagine our defense with peppers, we’ll be unstopable.

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