NFL Analyst Says It’s Time for Jets to Part Ways With C.J. Mosley

C.J. Mosley

Getty New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley combines for a tackle on November 28, 2021.

When former New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan signed linebacker C.J. Mosley, the move was part of a last-ditch effort to save his job in 2019.

The ex-Jets GM went on a spending spree that ownership never should have allowed — bringing in running back Le’Veon Bell, wide receiver Jamison Crowder, defensive lineman Henry Anderson, cornerback Brian Poole, wide receiver Josh Bellamy, Mosley and more.

The plan quickly went up in flames but Maccagnan didn’t even stick around long enough to see it fail. He was fired after new head coach Adam Gase disagreed with his allocation of cap space.

Jets fans do not like Gase and for good reason, but he was actually correct when it came to that 2019 offseason. Mosley got injured in Week 1, Bell was an abject disaster in New York, and most of the smaller deals were sub-par at best.

Maccagnan’s most successful signings were slot-experts Crowder and Poole, but they weren’t enough to turn this team into a winner. In the end, the 2019 offseason set the Jets back two or three years.

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Time to Pull the Plug on Mosley’s Contract?

Jets Players Who Should Be Cut Soon2021-12-03T03:31:04Z

In a recent segment of Heavy’s “I’m Just Saying…” podcast, NFL analyst Brian Mazique suggested that the Jets part ways with the former Pro Bowl linebacker in 2022.

He began: “You’re not on the cusp of winning right now, so what you have to do at that point is you have to look at some of your higher-priced guys who from an age standpoint — their prime does not align with what you expect to be your winning window — so with that foundation laid, the guy I think they should release is C.J. Mosley.”

The five-year contract that Mosley signed in 2019 was worth $85 million total and $43 million guaranteed. Being that the linebacker opted out in 2020, he’s technically playing out year two of his five-year deal, and that puts GM Joe Douglas in a tricky situation.

Mazique detailed the predicament, explaining: “C.J. Mosley is a 29-year old middle linebacker who at this point, I would not call him a dominant performer at middle linebacker, I [would] say he’s solid… Guess what? Next year, C.J. Mosley is going to have a base salary of $16 million. That is 8.19% of the team’s overall cap room, going to a 29-year old linebacker who by the time you’re ready to win, he won’t be anymore. So, sometimes you release a person not because they suck, [but] because there isn’t a match… This is not a diss to C.J. Mosley at all, I think he’s played well, I think he’s done as well as can be but I don’t think he’s the sort of difference-maker that you have to have — obviously he’s not, he’s playing every day and they’re still [3-9] — I don’t think he’s that level of a difference-maker and I think that you would do better as a franchise to try to get as much flexibility as a franchise financially as possible… At this point, he’s doing more harm than good.”

I have to admit, Mazique makes a very compelling argument despite the fact that Mosley is still one of the better players in this 32nd ranked defense. Having said that, is there even a possible out in 2022?

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Dissecting the Mosley Deal

According to Over the Cap, releasing Mosley before June 1, 2022, would be a no-go. It would cost the Jets $20.5 million in dead cap next season, shaving a slim $3 million off the books.

That’s option one, and option one is not happening. Option two is to cut Mosley after June 1st. In this scenario, the linebacker’s entire $17.5 million cap hit becomes dead money but the franchise would save almost 92% of his contract in 2023 and 2024.

When you could just keep Mosley one more season and save the same amount by releasing him in 2023, neither of these possibilities are all that appealing. Mazique is correct that Douglas should try and get out of this contract but I feel the only logical way to do so in 2022 is via trade.

If the Jets can move him before June 1, they save $13 million in cap with a dead money number of $4.5 million. Trade him after June 1 and that relief number becomes $16 million, with a minor sum of $1.5 million in dead cap each of the next three seasons.

Mosley has struggled to adapt to Robert Saleh’s system, with a 50.7 coverage grade (50 of 56 targets allowed for 429 receiving yards) and a 31.0 in run defense according to Pro Football Focus. The young Jets linebacker core was even worse in New England without the veteran holding it together though.

Having said that, he’s not the answer either and he’s only getting older. Finding a trade partner may be tough but Douglas must do whatever it takes to get it done.

Whether that’s restructuring the deal to make it more appealing or taking on a larger cap hit to entice a win-now franchise, getting clear of his contract should be a priority in 2022. Worst case scenario, Mosley plays one more season with the Jets and becomes a near-guarantee to be released in 2023.

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