Saturday is a tough day for Jets fans, as the team decided to part with fan favorite and future Ring of Honor inductee, center Nick Mangold. Mangold, 33, had this to say on Twitter regarding his release:
“As will be announced by the team shortly, my time as a New York Jet has come to an end. While this is a sad day to leave so many great coaches, teammates, and executives, I look forward to seeing what the future holds for me. My family and I will always be grateful to Mr. Johnson and the entire organization for making me a Jet. I truly want to thank the fans for their amazing support over the past 11 years. It meant a lot to see all the #74 jerseys in the crowd every Sunday. Thank you all for a fantastic 11 years!
While this was a difficult decision for general manager Mike Maccagnan to make, it was a necessary one. If the Jets are attempting a proper rebuild, then saving $9.075M against the cap in 2017 was a no-brainer.
The release of Mangold will end a 19 year run of Hall of Fame-caliber play at center for the Jets. Mangold replaced recent Hall of Fame finalist Kevin Mawae, who was with the team for 8 seasons prior. The Jets will hope that restricted free agent center Wesley Johnson can provide a similar and seamless transition, as he is the likely favorite to start at center after filling in nicely over 8 games in 2016.
The shoes Johnson will be asked to fill are enormous, as Mangold was endeared by countless fans who grew to admire the toughness he brought to the field and the leadership he added in the locker room. A seven-time Pro Bowler, Mangold will surely look to join a contending team with an established quarterback to finish out his career.
The move leaves the Jets with approximately $16-17M in cap space, with more cuts sure to follow.
Darrelle Revis is due a $2M roster bonus on March 11th, so a decision on him will be made by then. If released, the Jets will save over $9M against the cap, with the ability to recoup an additional $6M should Revis sign elsewhere. The pending charges against Revis do not appear likely to affect his cap number.
Other potential cap casualties include Marcus Gilchrist ($4.625M savings). Brandon Marshall ($7.5M savings), David Harris ($6.5M savings), Erin Henderson ($2.578M), and a possible trade of Sheldon Richardson, which would clear another $8.069M off the cap. Altogether, these moves would put the Jets over $50M in cap space, with an additional draft choice or two added onto the recent third-round compensatory pick (107th overall) they were awarded by the NFL. These moves would almost certainly eliminate the possibility of the Jets adding a big name quarterback, and would signal a complete rebuild that has been years overdue for the franchise.