Bloated contracts, lack of discipline dim Jets' offseason prospects
By Jason La Canfora | CBS Sports NFL Insider
November 25, 2012 12:18 pm ET
The Jets (4-7) are on the brink of another lost season following another lopsided defeat Thursday night. They're in a predicament that several players who have been in that locker room in recent years attribute to an overall lack of discipline -- plus a sense of entitlement furthered by contracts loaded with guarantees and specific language that in essence binds players to the team regardless of how they act and how poorly they perform.
Coming off a 49-19 defeat at home to New England on Thanksgiving, questions continue to swirl about the future of coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum, and several NFL executives who have surveyed the Jets' 2013 salary-cap situation, contractual obligations and locker-room culture believe it will be difficult for any new coach or general manager to quickly turn the team around if there is a new regime in place this offseason.
Guys love playing for Ryan, according to several players with the Jets in recent years. Still, they maintain there is not sufficient discipline and deterrents in place throughout the organization to eliminate the kind of chemistry and inter-personnel problems that have plagued the team the past two years. And players are further empowered and emboldened, the former Jets said, by a roster short on talent and depth to push for starting spots as well as a bevy of recent contracts that, in the cases of a malcontent like Santonio Holmes or a slumping veteran like Mark Sanchez, preclude the team from cutting them.
Holmes is due $7.5 million guaranteed in 2013, for skill, cap and injury. That means that if the Jets part with him, he is still owed that money (Holmes had similar language in his deal for 2012, which prevented the Jets from being able to cut him after his meltdowns led to their rapid descent down the stretch). Sanchez is due $8.25 million fully guaranteed in 2013 (and then makes another $500,000 in workout bonuses from being on the roster). Furthermore, according to sources with knowledge of the contract, there are no offsets in the contracts -- so the player, if released, could earn a full salary from the next team that signed him -- and the contract language dictates that if they are released, they must be paid the full amount they are owed within 30 days. In many cases there is offset language in such contracts and guaranteed payments can be spread out over a much more lengthy period of time.
Also, the Jets owe corner Antonio Cromartie $4.75 million guaranteed in 2013, David Harris has $9.5 million of his $10.9 million salary guaranteed. Sources who have studied their contract situation expect Bart Scott and Calvin Pace to be among those not back next season, regardless of who is making decisions there, but the restrictive contract language will limit other options. The Jets project to be over $20 million over the 2013 cap, sources said.
And, in what could be the biggest issue for the team in the offseason, their best player, corner Darrelle Revis, will be coming off of season-ending ACL surgery and seeking a contract extension, as his previous deal was constructed with an eye toward re-negotiating in 2013. With ACL injuries becoming less significant to overcome these days (see Adrian Peterson), don't expect the injury to deter the demand for a new contract with the top defensive players in the NFL earning $15 million a season or more since Revis signed his deal in 2010. Revis is set to earn just $3 million in base salary and $3 million in bonuses in 2013.