INDIANAPOLIS -- The Jets have been working overtime to clear out the old from their underwhelming, overpriced roster, so they'll have plenty of salary cap room to welcome in the new. In the last 2½ weeks they've made seven moves to clear $46 million in salary cap obligations off their books.
So, are they finally done?
Jets GM Mike Maccagnan indicated they might be -- at least when it comes to the major housecleaning of big, expensive names. He offered no promises, especially with a few more days until the start of free agency, but he made it sound like the remaining expensive veterans on the roster are at least temporarily in the clear.
"I think we've made quite a few moves, but I'm not going to speculate on whether we're going to make more or not," Maccagnan said at the NFL scouting combine. "I would say most of the major moves we made have been made."
That's could be good news for the Jets who appeared to be on the chopping block, such as receiver Eric Decker, safety Marcus Gilchrist and even defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, who has been the subject of trade speculation since the middle of last season. Then again, maybe cutting a player like Gilchrist isn't something Maccagnan would consider "major". He also left the door open for circumstances to change his mind.
"We'll see how this thing unfolds going forward," Maccagnan said. "You don't really know if, for example, a trade opportunity comes up that you're not really expecting. But in terms of the trimming of the players off the roster, most teams generally going into free agency make those moves. Free agency is a little bit of time away - not very far away - but most teams try to clean their books before they get into free agency."
The Jets have already made several cost-cutting moves in anticipation of free agency which has moved them from being over the $167 million NFL salary cap to having about $34 million cap space to spend when the free-agent signing period opens on Thursday. That certainly could be enough to at least get them started, even if a free-agent quarterback ends up using a big chunk of that amount.
So far the Jets have parted - or revealed their intention to part -- with a lot of familiar names. They've said goodbye to center Nick Mangold ($9.075 million in salary cap savings), cornerback Darrelle Revis ($9.3 million), receiver Brandon Marshall ($7.5 million), kicker Nick Folk ($3 million), linebacker Erin Henderson ($2.5 million) and tackles Breno Giacomini ($4.5 million) and Ryan Clady ($10 million).
If Maccagnan determines that's not enough, here's a look at the other players who could get caught up in his franchise purge:
S Marcus Gilchrist (Cap savings: $4.625 million) - The Jets' secondary was a disaster last season and they are planning to do a complete overhaul. Gilchrist, 28, is also coming off a serious knee injury he suffered in December and Jets coach Todd Bowles couldn't say this week if he'd even be ready for the start of training camp in July. His $6 million salary and $7.375 million cap number are just way too much. He's probably headed for a pay cut when he's healthy if he's not released.
WR Eric Decker (Cap savings: $5.75 million) - If the Jets were going to keep one of their high-priced veteran receivers it likely would've been Brandon Marshall, in large part because Decker is coming off shoulder and hip surgery and there's no guarantee he'll be ready for training camp this summer. At the very least he'll have to accept a huge pay cut to stay, because he's due $7.25 million with a cap number of $8.75 million. But he probably won't get that option.
DE Sheldon Richardson (Cap savings: $8.069 million) - The Jets tried to trade him during the season and almost certainly will try to trade him again between now and the NFL draft. They don't immediately need his cap space, so there's no rush. But with Mo Wilkerson and Leonard Williams on their defensive line, his $8.069 million salary and cap number is a luxury they don't need to afford, especially if they can turn him into an upper-round draft pick.
CB Buster Skrine (Cap savings: $3.5 million) - He'd still count for $5 million against the Jets cap if they cut him, which is a lot of "dead money" and would seem to make his release unlikely. But the Jets are getting younger and want to put their money in other spaces, so they could ask him to cut his $6 million salary. The Jets might pursue a top cornerback in free agency and might even use the sixth pick in the draft on one, too. If they can't get his price down they might want to just let their full youth movement in the secondary begin.
LB David Harris (Cap savings: $6.5 million) - There has never been any indication the Jets are planning to cut him since even at age 33 they still consider him a good player and a valuable locker room presence. Plus, he's in the final year of his contract so he'll be off the books in 2018 anyway. But $6.5 million isn't nothing, so if the Jets are really in full rebuilding mode and have their eyes on younger, better players, a move like this can't be ruled out.