The Jets began the reshaping of their roster and the first of what could be many moves to help clear salary cap space on Thursday as they released two veterans -- kicker Nick Folk and right tackle Breno Giacomini.
The moves clear about $7.5 million in salary cap space and leave the Jets somewhere around $10 million under the projected NFL salary cap. They were actually over until last week, when they declined to pick up the option on veteran left tackle Ryan Clady.
Clady, of course, was just a one-and-done player with the Jets. The 31-year-old Giacomini just finished his third season with the Jets, while the 32-year-old Folk has been their kicker since 2010. Folk leaves as one of the most prolific kickers in franchise history, with the record for accuracy (81.3 percent) and second on the all-time points list (729).
"It's a sad day, but that's the business side of things," Folk said in a press release from the Jets. "I had a great seven years here. I think the only thing that would've topped it off would've been a couple of Super Bowl wins."
Folk, who hit 27 of 31 field goals last season, was due to count for $3.5 million against the salary cap in 2017, and the Jets saved $3 million by letting him go. Giacomini was due to count for $5.1 million against the cap, and the Jets saved $4.5 million by letting him go. He had been a two-year starter for the Jets at right tackle before back issues limited him to just five games last year.
The Jets, after letting both their left and right tackles go, will obviously be in the market for a tackle in free agency or the draft. One option is Ben Ijalana, who started 13 games for them last season, but he's an unrestricted free agent. They also have Brandon Shell, a fifth-round pick who started three games as a rookie last year.
As for what the Jets will do at kicker, it's possible they'll pursue a veteran in the free-agent market. They also recently signed Ross Martin to a reserve/futures contract. The 23-year-old Martin put up quite a fight in a training camp battle with Folk last summer.
The release of Folk and Giacomini is likely only the start of the Jets' purge between now and the start of free agency. Receivers Brandon Marshall (with a salary cap number of $7.5 million) and Eric Decker ($8.75 million), center Nick Mangold ($9.075 million) and cornerback Darrelle Revis ($15.3 million) are all potential cap casualties. Cutting all four would clear an additional $31.6 million in cap space.
Due to NFL salary cap rules, though, the Jets can not release Revis until after free agency begins on March 9, though they will likely do so before he's due a $2 million bonus on March 11.