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  • Writer's pictureChristian Novarro

2024 Offseason Outlook: Do the NY Jets Have the Salary Cap Space to Compete?


By: Christian Novarro, 2025


The 2023 National Football League (“NFL”) season did not go as planned for the New York Jets. The Jets had high expectations for 2023 after acquiring former MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers.[1] However, that all went away when Rodgers tore his Achilles on the Jets fourth offensive play of the year – he did not complete a single pass for the season.[2]

 

But with a top defense and Aaron Rodgers expected to be back under center for 2024, the Jets are once again hopeful that they can make their first playoff appearance since 2010. To do so, they need to have a strong offseason. Below is a preview of the potential 2024 offseason plans for the Jets.

 

Offensive Needs

 The two most glaring issues that the Jets will likely address are the offensive line and wide receiver positions. The Jets had arguably one of the weakest offensive lines in the league last year. According to Pro Football Network, they had the 30th ranked offensive line unit and gave up 64 sacks – the fourth-highest total in the NFL.[3] The Jets need to find a way to protect their star quarterback if they want any chance to compete in 2024. Moreover, the team’s two starting offensive tackles to start the 2023 season, will enter free agency this offseason.[4] And after Laken Tomlinson’s recent release, the Jets need three new starters to play alongside center/guard Joe Tippman and guard/tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker in 2024.[5]

 

The Jets will also likely add additional weapons in the passing game. Although second-year receiver Garret Wilson enjoyed his second straight 1,000 yard receiving season, no other receiver had over 350 receiving yards on the year.[6] To add on to this clear offensive discrepancy, the Jets had only 3,373 receiving yards for the entire year - ranked 30th in the NFL.[7] Considering Aaron Rodgers is recovering from his torn Achilles, the Jets need to add as much talent on the offensive side as they can. It can be expected the Jets will try and make multiple big additions (via free agency and the NFL draft) at offensive line and wide receiver – and potentially at quarterback if they end trading backup Zach Wilson.

 

Defensive Needs

 The Jets will likely be quiet on the defensive side this offseason. According to Pro Football Network, the Jets had the third best defense in 2023, and they are returning all their major starters in 2024.[8] However, a few questions remain that the team will need to answer. The Jets need to replace safety Jordan Whitehead and resign or replace some of their backup interior lineman, such as Solomon Thomas.[9] Additionally, the Jets need to decide whether to resign, franchise tag, or let go of their talented edge rusher Bryce Huff.[10]

 

Current Salary Cap Situation

With the 2024 Salary Cap officially set at $255.4 million and Laken Tomlinson’s recent release, the Jets currently have around $20.7 million in cap space - with effectively $16 million when factoring in rookie contracts.[11] However, they can, and will, make additional moves to clear up more cap space. Below are the eight Jets players (along with their 2024 contract details) who are potential cut and/or restructure candidates.[12]

Player

Paragraph 5 (“P5”) Salary

Prorated Bonuses

Guaranteed Money

2024 Cap  Number

Dead Money

(Pre-June 1st) Cut Savings

Max Restructure Savings

$17,000,000

$4,476,000

$0

$21,476,000

$10,428,000

$11,048,000

$12,800,000

$14,400,000

$4,900,000

$15,500,000

$20,400,000

$41,341,000

($20,941,000)

$10,720,000

$13,300,000

$2,464,000

$0

$16,364,000

$9,056,000

$7,308,000

$9,840,000

$10,500,000

$4,695,000

$0

$15,636,176

$9,315,000

$6,321,176

$7,600,000

$10,000,000

$2,184,000

$10,000,000

$12,184,000

$18,736,000

($6,552,000)

$7,200,000

$8,000,000

$3,221,668

$0

$11,221,668

$5,921,668

$5,300,000

$5,600,000

$6,100,000

$2,338,334

$0

$9,338,334

$4,288,334

$5,050,000

$4,080,000

$6,250,000

$900,000

$3,000,000

$7,150,000

$6,600,000

$550,000

$4,200,000

 

While the Jets will not cut/restructure all these players for maximum cap savings, they have plenty of options to free up cap room for 2024.

 

Restructure Candidates

Quinnen and Quincy Williams are two ideal restructure candidates given their current contracts and past production. Quinnen Williams has four years (and two additional void years) left on his massive contract extension from last offseason. His brother Quincy, who also resigned with the Jets last offseason, has two years (and two additional void years) on his current contract.[13] Moreover, both players have been playing at an exceptional level over the past few seasons. Quinnen Williams achieved All-Pro status in 2022 and has been selected for the Pro Bowl in the last two seasons, while his brother Quincy earned All-Pro honors in 2023.[14] They are two players the Jets would likely hope to retain for the foreseeable future and, as a result, ideal candidates for restructured contracts. Overall, the Jets could free up around $15 million in 2024 cap space by converting their Paragraph 5 (“P5”) salaries into prorated bonuses.

 

Void years are contract years that players never play on which serve as a placeholder for prorated bonus money.[15] If the Jets convert Quinnen and Quincy’s P5 salaries into prorated signing bonuses (leaving about one million in P5 salary to meet the veteran minimum salary), they can spread the cap hits into later contract years and additional void years. For example, the Jets can convert $13.4 million of Quinnen Williams’s P5 salary to a signing bonus that prorates over (a) his four contract years and (b) one of his additional void years - proration maxes out at five seasons. As a result, only $3.7 million of his original P5 salary (a one million veteran minimum salary and $2.7 million of his total $13.4 million bonus) would count towards the 2024 cap. The remaining $10.7 million of his bonus would count towards the Jets 2025, 2026, 2027, and 2028 cap in equal $2.7 million increments. If the Jets then convert Quincy’s P5 salary into a signing bonus that prorates over five years, only around $2 million of his original P5 salary would count towards the 2024 cap. Ultimately, the Jets could save up to $10.7 million and $4.2 million in cap space from Quinnen and Quincy, respectively, if they convert their P5 salaries into prorated bonuses.

 

John Franklin-Myers and C.J. Mosley are two other restructure candidates. They rank among the Jets' top defensive players, commanding P5 salaries of $17 million and $13.3 million for the 2024 season, respectively.[16] The Jets could save over $20 million by converting their P5 salary into signing bonuses. Between the two players, John Franklin-Myers appears to be a more suitable candidate for restructuring based on (a) his age and (b) his current contract, which spans two years with two additional void years. This contrasts with C.J. Mosley who is entering the final year of his existing deal.[17]

 

Cut Candidates

After Laken Tomlinson’s recent release, the Jets' best cut candidate is C.J. Uzomah. C.J. Uzomah is in the final year of his current deal which includes $8 million in P5 salary.[18] If the Jets cut him before June 1st, they would save $5.3 million: a $11.2 million cap hit (P5 salary + prorated bonus) minus the $5.9 million in dead cap. Alternatively, if they choose to give C.J. Uzomah the post-June 1st cut designation (which spreads the dead cap charge over two seasons), they would save $8 million.[19] Considering C.J. Uzomah only has around 300 receiving yards in the past two seasons and was less productive than tight ends Tyler Conklin and Jeremy Ruckert in 2023, he is an ideal cut candidate.[20]

 

Extensions

D.J. Reed is a good extension candidate for the Jets. He is in the final year of his three-year deal and has been an extremely productive cornerback partner to Jets star Sauce Gardner. With three void years already attached to his current deal, the Jets could sign Reed to an extension through his last void year in 2027.[21] The recent cornerback market suggests that D.J. Reed could receive a three-year extension for around $10 to 13 million per year with around $9 to 10 million as a signing bonus. A $9 to 10 million signing bonus, coupled with a conversion of D.J. Reed’s 2024 P5 salary into a prorated bonus through 2027, could save the Jets around $4 million in cap space.

 

Bryce Huff

On the defensive side, the biggest question the Jets must answer is what to do with edge rusher Bryce Huff. Bryce Huff has been a huge contributor for the Jets over the past few seasons and stands out as one of the league’s most effective pass rushers. He has been among the league-leaders in advanced metrics such as “pass-rush win rate” and pressure percentage.[22] Additionally, he had 10 sacks this season while only playing a remarkable 40% of the Jets defensive snaps.[23]

 

Retaining the 26-year-old would be huge for the Jets’ defense in 2024. However, the Jets’ current roster and cap situation suggest that they may not be able to keep their breakout edge rusher. The Jets have until March 5th - a week before free agency begins - to give Bryce Huff the franchise tag; but tagging Huff would cost the Jets over $21 million in cap space for 2024.[24] A $21 million cap hit would greatly hinder the Jets’ ability to fix their other issues. In addition, the Jets used two first round picks on edge rushers over the past two seasons (one in each of the past two drafts).[25] Considering the Jets already control two young edge rushers for the next three years, signing Bryce Huff to a lucrative deal as a rotational player is a difficult decision. If the Jets decide to bring back Huff, it would be best for their 2024 cap situation to do so under a long-term extension. However, the team’s current situation suggests that it may be unlikely.

 

Key Acquisitions

Although they have other concerns, the two most serious issues that the Jets need to address are their offensive line and wide receiver positions. Below is a list of the offensive lineman and wide receivers that are set to hit free agency:

Top Tackles

Top Guards

Top Wide Receivers

Tyron Smith

Kevin Dotson

Mike Evans*

Trent Brown

Rob Hunt

Tee Higgins*

Michael Owenu

Kevin Zeitler

Michael Pittman

Jonah Williams

Dalton Risner

Calvin Ridley

Jermaine Eluemunor

Ezra Cleveland

Marquise Brown

George Fant

Damion Lewis

Gabe Davis

Donovan Smith

Jon Runyan

Darnell Mooney

 

Jonah Jackson

Noah Brown

 

Graham Glasgow

 

*The Cincinnati Bengals recently gave Tee Higgins the franchise tag for 2024, and Mike Evans resigned with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers[26]

 

The 2024 NFL Draft is strong at offensive tackle and wide receiver, and many experts expect the Jets to take an offensive tackle and wide receiver with their first two draft selections.[27] Nonetheless, it is still expected the Jets to go after one of the top offensive tackles (Tyron Smith, Trent Brown, Michael Owenu, and/or Jonah Williams) and available wide receivers (such as Calvin Ridley) along with a viable offensive guard during free agency. However, with the top wide receivers already off the market - Tee Higgins and Mike Evans are unavailable and Michael Pittman is expected to return to the Colts - it would not be surprising if the Jets try to add three starting-caliber offensive linemen during free agency. Over 20 interior offensive linemen played in at least 65% of their team's 2023 offensive snaps. With that type of depth on the market, the Jets could potentially fill their offensive line needs in free agency and wait to add a wide receiver until the 2024 draft. If the Jets were to land this combination of free agents, the market suggests that they would need anywhere from $25 to 35 million in 2024 cap space depending on the specific players and contract structures.

 

Overall Outlook

The market suggests that the Jets would need to free up around $30 to $40 million in additional cap space for 2024 if they were to (a) resign Bryce Huff, (b) bring in a top offensive tackle, a top wide receiver, and a starting offensive guard, and (c) fill their other holes with cheap replacements. To do so, the Jets could (a) restructure the contracts of Quinnen Williams, Quincy Williams, and John Franklin-Myers; (b) cut C.J. Uzomah; and (c) extend or restructure D.J. Reed’s contract. If the Jets followed these suggestions, they could free up around $35-$38 million in cap room (depending on Uzomah’s cut designation). Furthermore, they have another $10+ million they could potentially save by cutting C.J. Mosley, which is highly unlikely, or restructuring his contract.

 

In the end, it is not likely that the Jets will make all the acquisitions highlighted above. As mentioned, the Jets' current roster suggests they will not resign Bryce Huff to a long-term deal – which is their better option from a cap perspective between (a) a long-term deal and (b) the 2024 franchise tag. There is also no indication that any of the premier wide receivers and offensive linemen will (a) be available when free agency begins - Tee Higgins and Mike Evans are already off the market - and (b) be interested in signing with the Jets.[28] Nevertheless, the Jets need to make some major acquisitions if they want to seriously contend in 2024. While the Jets do not have an enormous amount of cap flexibility, they should have enough to field a competitive roster without getting rid of any of their key pieces.


References:

[1] Tim Keown, Aaron Rodgers played four snaps and swallowed the Jets' season (21 Dec 2023) https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/39148269/aaron-rodgers-new-york-jets-wasted-season-no-playoffs

[2] Id.

[5] Charean Williams, Report: Jets to cut Laken Tomlinson (26 Feb 2024)

[7] Id.  

[8] Dalton Miller, NFL Defense Rankings: Browns and Ravens Never Relinquished Top Spots (12 Jan 2024) https://www.profootballnetwork.com/nfl-defense-rankings/

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Dallas Robinson, What Is the NFL Post-June 1 Designation? (30 May 2023) https://www.profootballnetwork.com/nfl-post-june-1-designation-what-why-and-how/

[21] Id.

[22] ESPN Analytics, 2023 NFL pass rush, run stop, blocking win rate rankings (9 Jan 2024) https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/38356170/2023-nfl-pass-rush-run-stop-blocking-win-rate-rankings-top-players-teams

[24] Charlotte Edmonds, NFL franchise tag: What you need to know (21 Feb 2024) https://www.nbcsportsbayarea.com/nfl/nfl-franchise-tag-explained-origins-dates-values/1705490/

[26] Christian Gonzales, Bengals to use Franchise Tag on Tee Higgins (23 Feb 2024) https://www.nfl.com/news/bengals-to-use-franchise-tag-on-wr-tee-higgins

[27] Connor Livesay, 2024 NFL MOCK DRAFT: LATEST PRE-COMBINE PREDICTIONS FOR FIRST 3 ROUNDS

[28] Gonzales, supra.

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