With the Super Bowl officially behind us, the NFL world will turn toward 2023 free agency and available cap space — and that means roster cuts are coming as well.
The New York Jets are expected to waive several veteran contracts as they try and free up enough room for a starting quarterback that can elevate this young roster to the level needed to win the division and make the playoffs. On a smaller scale, they might also part ways with a few recent draft picks that never panned out.
When a prospect reaches year four of their rookie contract, they’re due a significant raise in salary, and SNY’s Connor Hughes named safety and core special teamer Ashtyn Davis as a potential cap casualty in 2023 for this reason. The much-maligned 2020 third-round selection is due to make $2.743 million as his base salary this year according to Over the Cap, and his cap hit is even worse at $3.027 million.
If the Jets were to release Davis, however, they’d only owe $284,070 in dead cap — which is next to nothing from a front office perspective.
Jets UDFA Find Tony Adams Could Replace Ashtyn Davis in 2023
Davis is an above average special teamer, but he’s not worth over $3 million in cap space and very few fans would bat an eye if he was cut this March.
Besides, Gang Green has already found a natural replacement in 2022 undrafted prospect Tony Adams, who looked like a more polished NFL safety than Davis as a rookie and was also a plus-special teamer that could take on a larger role in that department if needed. The franchise re-signed veteran Will Parks to a one-year deal in January of 2023 too.
Assuming they retain strong safety Jordan Whitehead — another potential cap casualty — that gives you three solid defensive backs with the likelihood that the Jets target a Lamarcus Joyner replacement in either free agency or the draft as safety number four.
All general manager Joe Douglas has to do is admit that Davis is yet another bust from that horrid 2020 draft class. That show of humility is well worth the $2.743 million in cap space that you’d save by making the move.
During his three seasons as a Jet, the California product accumulated 103 total tackles over 37 appearances, with three interceptions, five passes defended, three forced fumbles, one tackle for a loss and one half-sack. He was typically known for looking lost on defense in terms of both pass coverage and open-field tackling angles.
Jets Sacrificed Jason Pinnock for No Reason
There is one downside to cutting Davis, and it’s admittedly a very petty reason. Last summer, fans were intrigued by second-year safety convert Jason Pinnock — who appeared poised to take the next step in his CB-to-S transition after an impressive run to close out his rookie campaign.
The coaching staff was less enthralled, and ended up releasing Pinnock so that they could keep both Davis and Adams on the roster. Fans weren’t upset about the latter making the team, but Davis’ continued inclusion riled up NYJ diehards.
To make matters worse, Pinnock was immediately claimed by the cross-town rival New York Giants mere hours after being cut. With Big Blue, the 2021 draft pick out of Pittsburgh has turned into a consistent special teams contributor and key reserve, but he hasn’t made the leap into a starting talent.
In all honesty, he’s very similar to Davis at this stage of his career, except most Jets fans would probably prefer the upside — and cap hit — of Pinnock over his 2020 draft counterpart.
Unfortunately, that ship has sailed with the Giants holding onto Pinnock, and Douglas would be wise to lick his wounds and move on from the entire situation by waiving Davis in 2023. His release may feel like a total waste in hindsight, but it’s also the best move for the Green & White in the here and now.