The Jets were just about to completely run out of cap space. They agreed to deal with Steve McLendon and Jarvis Jenkins but had to wait on making them official because McLendon's deal would leave them with a pocket full of lint and that's it.
So, Mike Maccagnan was going to have to get creative. We've known that would be the case for months and now he has freed up $2.46 million in cap space by converting $3.69 million of James Carpenter's $4.45 million base salary into a signing bonus.
While this deal frees up money for this year it will add an additional $1.23 million to the cap in each of the next two seasons remaining on Carpenter's deal. Carpenter was signed last offseason and was looked at as a bit of a question mark but he played outstanding football for the Jets last year, him and Nick Mangold were really the only two offensive linemen who weren't a liability for large stretches. This converting of funds doesn't make it that much harder for the Jets to move on from Carpenter sometime after next season but still it shows the front office has faith in Carpenter's ability to play at last year's level.
If Maccagnan was willing to risk having to throw away he decided to put that faith in Carpenter instead of starting with someone like D'Brickashaw Ferguson. According to Overthecap.com Ferguson has a base salary of $8,625,000 with a cap hit of $14,107,000, if the Jets released him this year they could free up $9,093,00 in cap space but pay out $5,014,000 in dead money. The Jets could still cut Ferguson if they can't trade Muhammad Wilkerson or they could restructure Ferguson's contract but that would make it harder for them to move on from him next year.
Right now 2017 is the last year of Ferguson's deal, he has a base salary of $11,275,000 and a cap hit of $14,307,000 but the Jets could cut him before next year and save $13,025,000 while only paying $1,282,000 in dead money. So, maybe the Jets do make a move with Ferguson's contract this year but it seems obvious Maccagnan would rather tack on an extra $1.23 million onto Carpenter for two years after this season then tack on any extra money to Ferguson down the line.
Still this move only allows the Jets to fit in the signing of McLendon and Jenkins, but they still have to try and sign Ryan Fitzpatrick or Robert Griffin III, still need about $5 million in cap space to sign their draft picks and of course they still have holes that need to be addressed either through trades of training camp cuts. A Wilkerson trade would make Maccagnan's job a lot easier but regardless this won't be the last contract tweak he makes this offseason.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (email@example.com)