Are the New York Jets the NFL’s next superteam?
The latest development: A report from Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer that Joe Douglas hasn’t ruled out “making a run” at Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, now that Odell Beckham Jr. signed with the Baltimore Ravens.
The utopian apparent vision? Pairing Hopkins with Aaron Rodgers, Garrett Wilson, and Allen Lazard to build, on paper, a dynamic passing attack.
There, of course, is a catch: The money.
Could New York Jets Afford DeAndre Hopkins?
The Jets currently have $9.5 million in salary cap space, according to the NFLPA public report.
But that doesn’t include Rodgers and Hopkins — a couple of big-ticket items.
Rodgers, if indeed he is traded to New York, would bring massive fiscal headaches. He’s due a $58.3 million roster bonus that must be paid by Week 1.
The Packers naturally are not going to pick that up, so the Jets will be on the hook for that sum — which, if not altered, would put them some $50 million over the cap.
So, anyone with the slightest understanding of economics knows that Rodgers will need to agree to a significant restructure, but there’s no conceivable world in which he gives up much — if any — of that money he’s owed.
So let’s, for the sake of argument, say that the Jets, via a restructure, are able to cut his cap number in half. That would still put them $20 million over the cap in 2023 — and still would need to sign their draft class.
They could get there in a number of ways. The easiest? Restructuring or adding voidable years to the contracts of two players: C.J. Mosley (whose $17 million in base salary could be converted to a bonus) and Carl Lawson (the same, but $15 million).
Those moves alone would allow them to absorb Rodgers’ contract and sign their draft class.
But much more work would be needed to afford Hopkins. The Cardinals star receiver is due $19.4 million in base salary this year — all of which would count against the Jets’ cap in 2023.
So Douglas would need more accounting tricks to make it work.
That would be tough, but not impossible. For one, trading for Hopkins and Rodgers would likely put a sizable dent in the Jets’ draft capital, and in turn, the draft class’ cap obligations.
So instead of needing to clear an additional $20 million in space for Hopkins, it might be closer to $15 million. They could do that by pulling the same restructure trick with him that they did with Rodgers and Mosley.
The Packers would also likely look to move Corey Davis (none of his $10.5 million salary is guaranteed), either through a trade or a release.
(Again, these are all rough, back-of-the-envelope numbers.)
So 2023 could work. But beyond that? It gets dicey.
Any money you put off accounting for this year carries over to the years to come. And while the Jets have $60 million in projected cap space in 2024, much, if not all, of it will be gone after all of these moves.
So any deal to acquire Hopkins probably comes with the condition that he reworks his contract — particularly given his injury history.
Would Hopkins be willing to take a pay cut for a real chance to win a Super Bowl? Perhaps it’s what he and Sauce Gardner discussed recently.
“Me & Dhop had a great talk when I was in Dallas last week😎,” Gardner wrote on Twitter after word of the Jets’ interest was made public.
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