Even if quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick would accept the Jets’ current offer of high-end backup money, the Jets wouldn’t be able to sign him without creating significant salary-cap space. They’ve reportedly commenced the process of doing so by putting the squeeze on their franchise left tackle.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that the Jets have asked D’Brickashaw Ferguson to take a significant pay cut. With a cap number of $14.1 million, Ferguson is due to earn $10.375 million in salary and bonus payments this year.
Per Mehta, the Jets have communicated the request as a device for creating the cap space necessary to bring back Fitzpatrick, an unrestricted free agent who has been available to anyone for four weeks but who continues to be unsigned. The goal would be to create $4 million to $5 million in cap space, and the thinking is that Ferguson will be “amenable” (as Mehta explains it) to playing for less money. Ferguson could also force a release by digging in his heels, or retire.
Ferguson has played every single snap of his 10-year career, and he’s still only 32. But the Jets need to do something if they hope to re-sign Fitzpatrick; based on NFLPA records, the Jets currently have less than $565,000 in cap space, which isn’t even enough to sign Fitzpatrick to a one-year minimum deal.
Another way to clear plenty of cap space would be to trade defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and his $15.7 million franchise tender. To do so, however, would require finding a team that is willing to give the Jets what they want for Wilkerson and to give Wilkerson what he wants on a long-term contract.