After an 8-8 season, just about everyone in the New York Jets organization is under fire. That includes general manager Mike Tannenbaum, who has been criticized for more than a few recent signings and draft picks. Outside of the Wayne Hunter meltdown at right tackle and the lack of an impact from the majority of their draft picks the past few years, Tannenbaum took a lot of heat for seemingly sitting on $8.39 million in salary cap space. In actuality, Tannenbaum has proven himself to be a salary cap genius once again.
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, NFL teams can borrow cap space from previous years. With the Jets set to eat the salary increases for Hunter and Santonio Holmes, Tannenbaum saved the cap room as a means of salary cap relief for this season. The Jets can now apply that $8.39 million to this season's salary cap, which is expected to be somewhere between $120 million and $128 million. With the added cap space, that number for the Jets will lie between $128 million and $136 million.
That's huge for the Jets. Tannenbaum had to do some cap maneuvering during the shortened free agency period prior to the 2011 season, and that included repercussions for 2012. With the Jets already having around $128 million already committed to this year's cap, they would have otherwise been severely hamstrung if not for the foresight of Tannenbaum to save that salary cap space.
Being that the Jets have some major needs, that space is vital. It appears as though the Jets are going to ride with what they currently have on the roster at right tackle, but they would like to re-sign Sione Pouha and address their pass rush and need at the safety position. Will they be able to compete for big name free agents, such as Mario Williams? That remains to be seen. It would likely take some more magic from Tannenbaum and maybe a dash of Rex Ryan's recruiting pitch.
Regardless of whether or not the Jets are able to make a big splash, Tannenbaum has proven once again to be a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to understanding the salary cap and how to manipulate it to give the Jets an advantage.
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk shed some light on the subject. Some teams have an enormous amount of cap space to bring into the new year, which could create quite a bidding war if Peyton Manning is released by the Indianapolis Colts. Teams have to notify the NFL of their intention to carry over the space by Feb. 28.
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