Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Feb 2006

Jets Eye $8M Cut for Chad

Chad Pennington is scheduled to make $9 million in salary and bonuses for next season. Since the Jets are approxmately $26 million over the cap, they'd like Chad to restructure his contract. If they keep Pennington, he'll have a cap figure of $15 million. If they cut him, Pennington will still count $12 million against the cap. Will Pennington take one for the team and restructure? Why should he when the team has been rumored to be looking for a replacement for him either through free agency (Kerry Collins) or the draft (Jay Cutler)?

Posted by: Al Bogdan on 14 Feb 2006

35 comments, Last at 16 Feb 2006, 7:39pm by Sean


by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 3:55pm

Throw in the fact that Chad will likely be able to sign a renegotiated deal with Kansas City and spend the year rehabbing and preparing to take over for Trent Green in 2007 and he has very little reason to negotiate. That said, there's really nothing else the Jets can do. They simply have to address his contract now when they are in position to do something about it.

It's really unfortunate, as Pennington has been both a terrific player and a terrific team guy. I wouldn't blame him for refusing to renegotiate. But the Jets are in position now to trade for a Matt Schaub or Philip Rivers, to move down and take Jay Cutler, or (and they should really be thinking about this), moving up into Houston's spot to take Matt Leinart.

by Ryan carney (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 4:03pm

It seems as thugh you guys made an error. In trying to type the headline "Jets eye Cut for Chad" you accidentally snuck in the characters "$8" I just figured I'd point this out so you guys could fix it. I think i'd invest more money in Ty Pennington's arm.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 5:24pm

Assuming Penington isn't going to accept a reduction of this magnatude, I think the Jets would be best served by just releasing him and soaking up the cap hit this year. The new regime will have a brief honeymoon period anyway. If they are still carrying him against the cap in 2007, they might not be around in 2008.

by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 5:38pm

Sean, I like everything in your analysis except "move down and take Jay Cutler." I'm not at all sure that Cutler will still be around if the Jets move down. I think he could go a lot higher than anyone thinks.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 5:51pm

Hey Sean, I'm curious...is there any basis to the Kansas City-Pennington connection or are you just speculating that Herman Edwards would snap him up? (Which is a good speculation, I'm just wondering if there's been talk of this.)

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 5:56pm

I don't disagree. He could go as high as third overall to Tennessee. I'm not sure I would be comfortable taking him at four, which is why I brought up the possibility of moving up for Leinart. Even if you have to absorb a major cap hit now, you set up the contract to pay out heavily early on, so that once Leinart has had a bit of experience and the team is ready to compete, he's making a relatively modest salary and you have the cap room to really upgrade elsewhere.

If I was to rank my preferences for addressing the QB position, it would probably be:

1. Trade for Matt Schaub.
2. Move up for Leinart
3. Trade for Rivers (I'm really not a Rivers fan, but the whole idea is to get the best bang for the buck, and you would be adding a player who was the #4 pick in the draft and getting him for very reasonable cap numbers for the next three years.
4. Move down for either Cutler or Vince Young.
5. Add a Kerry Collins and draft Croyle or Whitehurst or Olsen in the 2nd-3rd round.

I wouldn't mind the fifth option at all if Pennington agreed to renegotiate and stay on the team, but if he's gone, you need to do more to ensure the presence of a quality quarterback on the team.

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 5:58pm

Basilicus- I'm just speculating. Herm and Chad have an excellent relationship, and Kansas City is in dire straits with their quarterback depth behind Trent Green. It just seems like an obvious fit.

by El Angelo (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 6:33pm

I agree with #6. I'd cut Pennington (or deal him for a low pick, if that's somehow doable), trade a 2nd rounder for Schaub, and draft D'Brickashaw.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 6:50pm

It's a good thing he re-negotiated last year so the Jets would have enough cap space to sign Coles.

This whole situation is funny to me, because Coles and Pennington had that "great chemistry"... Washington took a $9 million cap hit to trade him and got lampooned for it... Pennington decreased his salary for Coles to paid... and Coles is now in a worse situation than in Washington... I predict Coles will become disgruntled again and demand a trade.

I'll drop Ramsey as another potential QB they could trade for. He hasn't had the oppurtunity to muck up like Harrington and Carr have.... kind've like Matt Schuab.

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 6:51pm

D'brickshaw isn't going to be there at four- Tennessee is almost certain to take him at three. Assuming the Jets made a trade for Schaub, they would either take Mario Williams or look to trade down some and recoup the pick they gave up for Schaub. I would think they would think long and hard about putting themselves in position to grab Deangelo Williams, somewhere in the 8-9 range.

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 6:56pm

Re 9:

The rather big difference between Schaub and Ramsey is that Schaub has demonstrated that he can play in his limited action, while Ramsey has not. It's also disconcerting when a coach who won Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks is doing everything in his power to get Ramsey out of town. It doesn't exactly make me want to run out and give up draft picks for the guy.

by That Handsome Dude (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 7:16pm

If the Jets trade for Patrick Ramsey it would have to be as a tackling dummy. Tannebaum and Mangini are too smart to want Ramsey for anything else. If the devil makes them get Ramsey to play QB, I'll have to stop being a Jets fan.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 7:23pm

You seem pretty confident that Ferguson is going #3. I had the Titans taking Vince Young so that he could get tutored by McNair. If that happens, drafting Ferguson, trading for Schaub/Ramsey makes a lot of sense. As a Jets fan, I pray Herm takes Pennington off our hands.

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 7:39pm

The entire Vince Young to Tennessee thing has taken on a life of its own, despite the fact that it doesn't make any sense. Steve Mcnair is still pretty young for a quarterback (33), he eats up a huge amount of their salary cap, and Tennessee has a backup in Billy Volek who they are very high on, and who is locked up for very reasonable money. For a team coming out of salary cap hell, the last thing in the world they are likely to do is use the #3 pick in the draft on a quarterback with high bust potential (Young has high upside as well, but he clearly has a number of red flags that will preclude him from going in the top three). The fact that Steve Mcnair and Vince Young are friends has absolutely no bearing on Tennessee's draft strategy whatsoever. None.

On the other hand, Tennessee has a huge need at left tackle, and when the scouting process is all done, Ferguson is likely going to grade out as the second best prospect in the draft, behind only Reggie Bush. They can draft Ferguson, sign him to a salary that will be commesurate with what good veterans make, and slide him into the starting lineup, knowing they will get six years of production out of the player instead of three years.

Why are they drafting Vince Young again?

(And I don't know why you would be praying for Herm to take Chad off our hands- the Jets are going to get absolutely hammered with his cap number, and if Chad is healthy, he's one of the top ten quarterbacks in the game. If he goes, I'm not going to feel good about it, whether it's ultimately best for the team or not.)

by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 7:42pm

Sean - with the way slotting works they're paying the same amount regardless of who they pick at 3.

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 7:54pm

First off, that's not entirely true, as quarterbacks generally sign slightly higher deals than their slots would warrant. Secondly, the issue is how much production you are getting for your dollar. The third pick in the draft is going to sign a six year contract in all probability, with a signing bonus upward of $20 million. If Tennessee takes Vince Young, it's a given that he won't play this year, he probably won't play next year, and it could be 3-4 years before he is producing at a level that his contract warrants. D'brickshaw Ferguson will start as a rookie, his salary will be high but not especially high for a left tackle and he will play every year of his deal, which is to say that there won't be three years where the Titans have to sit around eating cap space on a player who isn't playing.

by NF (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 8:00pm

This has significant potential to go down as being analogous to Babe Ruth to the Yankees. In that case, people don't realize that Babe Ruth did not at all appear to be a future baseball legend while on the Red Sox. Similarly, Pennington had one breathtakinly good season in 2002, when he had a season DVOA higher than any other QB except 2004 Peyton Manning, missed half of 2003 and wasn'table to bounce bac from the injury, a good but not great season in 2004 where he got injured late in the season, ended up requiring surgery after that season, and somehow hadn't fully rehabbed by the start of 2005 which became moot when he got injured again in the second week. If Chad Pennington is ever able to fully rehab and is on a team that isn't comparable to the 2004 Tennessee Titans, which is possible in the next Jets season without ingenious moves by the management, he could enter discussion about being in the top 10 QBs of the '00s.

Or he could continue to suffer chronic injuries, resulting in his early retirment and geneticists studying Pennington's DNA and discovering a gene that causes people to be injury-prone.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 9:30pm

Wait, #17, did you seriously just compare Chad Pennington to Babe Ruth? I mean, untapped potential is one thing, but the man barely has a rotater cuff.

by Reno (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 9:32pm


Babe Ruth was very obviously the best all-around player in baseball when the Red Sox sold him. He not only was already one of the best hitters in baseball, he was also a very, very good pitcher. Imagine if, say, Dontrelle Willis could hit like Vladimir Guerrero, and you've got a good idea of a young Ruth in comparitive terms.

Also, he hadn't had an injury that no one at his position(s) ever really came back to top form from, and having not had that injury, didn't proceed to have it again.

Chad Pennington being similar to Babe Ruth is one of the most ridiculous things I've heard in a long time that wasn't intended as a joke.

FWIW, I think Pennington's injury makes him done as "a top 10" quarterback. The first one did, really. I've always liked him, and I know that there have been tons of advances in medicine, but Pennington's never going to be the same.

Unfortunately, the best comparison for Pennington (though it's not cross-sport), is Don Majikowski.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 9:36pm

In that case, people don’t realize that Babe Ruth did not at all appear to be a future baseball legend while on the Red Sox.

Only if by that you mean that Babe Ruth didn't appear to be the best baseball player of all time in 1918. When he was traded, his OPS+ the previous four years were 189, 122, 164, 194. In 1918 he was 8th in batting average, 2nd in OBP, 1st in SLG, 1st in OPS, 1st in HR, 3rd in RBI.

In addition, his ERA+ the previous four years were 114, 158, 128, 121. He was 1st in ERA in 1916, 7th in 1917 and 9th in 1918. He had won 80 games and lost 41.

Chad Pennington is no Babe Ruth.

by Vern (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 10:30pm

You know, it's a privilege to post about football and Chad Pennington. You all should remember that.

by That Handsome Dude (not verified) :: Tue, 02/14/2006 - 11:58pm

re: 21
That is the best line I've read all day.

by Megamanic (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 3:41am

RE #1
Don't think the Jets will need to go up as high as #1 to get Leinart. Talk nicely to NO & d the trade after NO are on the clock to make sure you get what you're after. The trade value of #2 is a lot lower than #1.

I was going to pooh pooh the Rivers trade but I've just had another thought about the Feely signing - he could be experienced cover for Brees so Rivers could be traded

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 4:44am

Yes, only by all accounts, New Orleans has every intention of drafting Matt Leinart at #2. So why exactly would they be trading with the Jets to allow the player they want at a position they absolutely have to address get away from them?

That's why you would have to trade up to #1 overall in this scenario.

by Michael David Smith :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 10:13am

How much money did Pennington make in 2005? I know in his first five years he made about $29 million, but I'm not sure about his 2005 salary. I'm thinking he made about $1 million per start over the course of his career.

by RH (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 10:26am

As a Titans fan, I *pray* we pick D'Brickashaw at #3.

As a pessimist, I *fear* we pick Vince Young at #3.

by Are-Tee (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 1:30pm

Re. #9 - Pennington did not decrease his salary last year to get Coles. Supposedly, he offered to do so, but the Jets turned him down.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 3:40pm

How the heck do you plan out your team and end up $26 million over the salary cap.

Did no one at the Jets know how to plug in numbers into Excel and put a sum function at the bottom of the list to watch the total as they were signing players to contracts?

Damn, this ain't rocket science.

by That Handsome Dude (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 4:28pm

re: 28
A number of other teams are in similar predicaments. It happens every year.
It may have not been your intention, but it comes across like you are damning the Jets as a clown organization.
As a Jets fan, I just wanted to point out it happens to plenty of NFL teams.
That still doesn't make it okay with me, though.

by ElJefe (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 6:03pm

Re: 28,29

A lot of teams get into this situation, but not to near the same extent. It isn't necessarily bad business practice to have ~110% of the salary cap allocated for a particular year (or ~$9MM over the cap this year) because you can always write a check to change the accounting of some players' deals. They still get their money, you just push the accounting of it off by a couple of years. Or you can have a credible threat of release to reduce a players compensation.

The Redskins wind up in this situation every year but don't particularly bat an eye because they have a strong cash flow and are willing to hand out signing/roster bonuses to try to game the accounting. The salary cap only dictates what you can account for the given year, not what you can actually spend.

But to be ~30% over the cap, with John Abraham counting zero for 2006 ... if they franchise Abraham they are effectively almost $35MM over the cap, and trading/releasing Pennington still leaves the >$30MM over.

On top of that until a new CBA is in place it may not be very possible to go the signing bonus/accounting trick route. In any case putting yourself 30% over the cap indicates a dearth of planning, and for Jets fans the bad news is that the planner is now the GM. :(

Although I'm not sure the $26 MM is gospel. Is that number coming from the Jets themselves (or the league)?

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 6:56pm

According to Jay Glazer, in an article written in the middle of last season.

The New York Jets have 44 players under contract for $114.686 million. A tough $19.6 million over. Remember, however, this number is without the salary of their best defensive player Pro Bowler John Abraham.

WR Laveraneus Coles is counting $10 million and they can free up about $7.5 million by restructuring him or $6 million by cutting him. CB Ty Law has a whopping $9.46 cap number but if they waive good-bye to him they free up $5.750 in room. DT Shaun Ellis has a $8.133 million number they can reduce. Other candidates are Curtis Martin ($8.124) and Jay Fielder ($5.625).

They are going to have some tough decisions to make with regards to their two top quarterbacks and their Pro Bowl WR, RB, CB and DE.

Oakland, Kansas City, and Denver are in worse shape than the Jets. The Redskins are the next team on his list.

Did I just read that the Jets cut Ty Law?

by Zac (not verified) :: Wed, 02/15/2006 - 8:42pm

MDS, USA Today says that Pennington made about $28 million from 2000 to 2004. The NFLPA lists his 2005 salary as $1 million. So that's $29 million (or $30 million by your count). Pennington has 37 career starts. That's $780,000 per start.

by Ryan (not verified) :: Thu, 02/16/2006 - 1:43pm

Andrew, #28, you're missing the point of your question. It's not how can a team be that far over the cap, which in and of itself is a good question, but the more intriguing question is how can that team be that far over the cap, and still suck to no end? Let me get this straight, you're a New York team spending more money than everyone else and you are still god awful? Wait, I guess that's typical. But if you're gonna spend the money at least do it like the Rams or the 90's Niners and get something out of it for Christsake.

by That Handsome Dude (not verified) :: Thu, 02/16/2006 - 3:24pm

re: 33
If the players making most of the money get injured, chances of sucking are high.

by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 02/16/2006 - 7:39pm

Re 33: It's easy- just put 25% of your allocated cap money on IR. You don't need to be a New York team to try this formula for disaster out, either. It works just as well in Philadelphia.

But I suppose the cheap shot at the Knicks was too much to passs up.