As the Jets weigh their options regarding quarterback Mark Sanchez, some are suggesting that the cap hit associated with trading or cutting him would outweigh the cost of keeping him.
So let’s make sense of the cap situation, from three perspectives: (1) if Sanchez stays on the team; (2) if he’s cut; and (3) if he’s traded.
If Sanchez stays on the team, the Jets will owe him a guaranteed base salary of $8.25 million and a workout bonus of $500,000 in 2013. His total cap number of $12.853 million for next season includes a $2.5 million proration from a guaranteed payment made in 2010, along with a $1.6 million proration from the $8 million signing bonus Sanchez received in March.
If the Jets cut Sanchez before June 1, they can designate the move as a post-June 1 transaction (each team can do that with two players per year). This would defer $4.8 million in dead money from the March 2012 signing bonus to 2014. Because, however, Sanchez’s base salary for 2013 is fully guaranteed with no offset, the cap charge for 2013 would still be $12.353 million, with only the $500,000 workout bonus avoided.
Cutting him before June 1 without the post-June 1 designation would result in a cap hit of $17.1 million. He would then be off the books for 2014.
A trade before June 1 would trigger an immediate cap charge of $8.9 million, along with any portion of the $8.25 million in guaranteed salary that the Jets would have to pay in order to make the trade happen. If, for example, the Jets ship Sanchez to Arizona and the Jets agree to pay $5.25 million of the base salary while the Cardinals pay the remaining $3 million, the total cap hit for the Jets would be $14.15 million.
Perhaps the best outcome for the Jets would be to persuade another team to assume half of the $8.25 million base salary, which would allow the Jets to save some cash while also approximating the cap hit they’ll absorb if he’s on the team but not playing in 2013.
Of course, the biggest challenge could be finding a team that would be willing to pay more than $4 million for Sanchez in 2013, especially since his contract carries $11.5 million in compensation come 2014, $14 million in 2015, and $11.25 million in 2016.