Austin Seferian-Jenkins New York Jets
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The New York Jets may have the most cap space in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean they’ll overpay for players. That includes their own.

The performances from Morris Claiborne, Demario Davis and Austin Seferian-Jenkins were three of the brightest parts of the dumpster-fire of a season the New York Jets had in 2017.

Sure, the Jets exceeded the “winless,” “worst team in football” expectations many so-called “experts” placed on them, but 5-11 is still 5-11. But despite having more cap space than they know what to do with, the Jets are showing that trio some tough love in free agency.

Sources told ESPN’s Rich Cimini that Davis is looking for “top-five” money, somewhere between $8-to-$10 million a season. That’s far away from the “top 12” money that Cimini says the Jets are willing to offer. Davis refuted that report shortly after it came out.

When he signs a new deal, we’ll truly see whether it was money or another factor driving Davis’ decision-making.

As for Claiborne, Cimini says that the Jets “are interested in re-signing” him, but that “the two sides aren’t close.” A source tells me that the Jets are “budging the most” on Claiborne, so if any of the three are going to re-sign, Claiborne seems the most likely.

Finally, the Jets and ASJ are at a complete standstill. After the season ended, the Jets pushed an envelope across the table that contained a two-year $8 million offer. There’s mutual interest, but a definite contradiction in terms of value.

None of these players are ultimately irreplaceable.

  • Davis is an aging linebacker. Who are the Jets getting? The relatively mediocre player he was during his first Jets’ tenure or the Renaissance Man he was in 2017?
  • While Claiborne was healthy last season, can he keep it up? Will he once again become injury prone after signing a new deal?
  • ASJ has shown loads of potential, but his hands remain inconsistent and, despite avoiding issues in 2017, has a ton of off-field baggage in his past. Hopefully, he continues down the right path, but that’s no guarantee.

I love that the Jets have the most cap space in the NFL—approximately $90 million. But they’re being frugal instead of careless and that shows the mark of a really smart team—and general manager. Kudos, Mike Maccagnan.

While I’m not a robot without emotion, there has to be a line of demarcation. It would be nice to have all of these guys back, but at the end of the day, it’s a business. None of these guys are absolute must-haves and that’s why the Jets were so willing to allow them to talk to other teams during the legal tampering period.

Basically, Maccagnan told them this: “Think you can get a better deal than what we’re offering? Go find it.”

Sure, it could backfire on he and the Jets but sometimes, tough love is the best kind of love.

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