The idea of credit spending has opened up a world of possibilities for many Americans, but it has also led to high amounts of debt and interest for the average person.
For some, however, credit spending is a calculated risk — or even a loophole that can be taken advantage of. And it certainly feels like New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas has embraced that ideology head-on in 2023.
“The Jets have created a whopping $45.2 million in salary cap space by restructuring seven contracts this offseason,” ESPN NYJ insider Rich Cimini detailed on June 4. “That includes all the key free agent acquisitions from 2021 and 2022, including safety Jordan Whitehead, the latest to rework his deal.”
“The upside is the added cap flexibility,” Cimini explained, warning that “the downside is having to pay the credit card bill that will arrive a year or two down the road.”
The long-time beat reporter also predicted that veteran wide receiver Corey Davis’ contract will be restructured next.
ESPN’s Rich Cimini Shares Future ‘Negative’ of Jets’ 2023 Offseason
Cimini continued on, breaking down the cost of going “all-in” on a Super Bowl this season with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
“In six of the seven renegotiated contracts, the Jets added void years, which spreads the cap hit over the term of the contract,” he noted. “The negative: Instead of an expiring contract, which comes off the books entirely, there’s an added ‘dead’ charge when the contract voids — the acceleration of the pro-rated amounts.”
Douglas most likely learned this strategy from Philadelphia Eagles GM Howie Roseman, who practically invented the idea of using void years to a team’s advantage. Roseman’s franchise also just represented the NFC in the championship game in February — not to mention winning a Lombardi Trophy while Douglas was on his staff in 2017-18.
“Let’s use defensive end Carl Lawson as an example,” Cimini wrote. “He was due to count $15.7 million in the final year of his contract. By restructuring, they lowered it to $3 million, but there’s a $6.3 million charge next year when it voids and he becomes a free agent. If the contract had remained untouched, there would’ve been no cap hit in 2024.”
He concluded that “all told, the Jets have $9.6 million in void money hitting the cap in 2024 and another $14.2 million in 2025.” Cimini did add that “a lot of teams do it this way,” trusting the philosophy of “save today, pay tomorrow.”
Jets GM Joe Douglas Must Have Plan for 2024 & Beyond
Douglas has been one of the most responsible NFL general managers in terms of cap management since taking over during the summer of 2019, so it’s hard to believe that he’s just operating with reckless abandon.
More likely, the Jets GM has a plan for 2024 and beyond.
For starters, NFL cap space should increase due to inflation of earnings around the league — a trend that occurs most years, outside of the offseasons including a global pandemic. That’s part of the reason most decision-makers are comfortable kicking the can down the road a bit.
Having said that, Douglas is doing a whole lot of kicking in 2023, and Cimini does have a point bringing this up. The Jets are likely freeing up enough cap space to restructure Rodgers’ contract sometime soon, balancing his exorbitant 2024 cap hit between this year and the next one.
If Rodgers only plays one season, however, or the Jets come up well short of a Super Bowl under his command, all of this restructuring could come back to bite this current regime long-term — assuming they aren’t fired first.
That could make the years after Rodgers very tricky for Gang Green and Douglas, unless the wily GM has yet another trick up his sleeve.