Thursday, March 24, 2011

NY Jets Benefitting From Lockout

If you're a football fan then no doubt you want the current NFL lockout to end as soon as possible so the league can go back to business as usual and fans can be guaranteed there will be football.  However if you're a New York Jets fan, like myself, you may want to rethink that position as the longer the lockout goes on the more the Jets benefit. Don't get me wrong I still want football this upcoming season but the longer the lockout lasts the more the Jets stand to gain and here's why:

Since there is no current CBA in place there is no free agency.  Players are not allowed to switch teams and they are not allowed to get in contact with anyone from any team in the league.  That means that potential free agents are not allowed to have meetings with perspective teams and neither are their agents.  How does this help the Jets you might ask?

Well of every team in the NFL no one has more key free agents then the New York Jets.  Potential players that could leave the Jets via free agency include: Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Antonio Cromartie, Brad Smith, Shaun Ellis, Drew Coleman and Eric Smith.

That list includes the Jets two best receivers (Holmes and Edwards), their second best corner (Cromartie), their return man/wide receiver/wildcat quarterback (Smith), and the longest tenured player on the team who is also a leader in the locker room (Ellis).  If the Jets were to lose all those players, or for that matter even some of them, the team would be decimated and would have a hard time returning to the playoffs let alone winning that SuperBowl Rex Ryan is always going on about.

Yet Jets fans should remain optimistic because if potential free agents can't talk to perspective team its going to make it easier for the Jets to retain their players.  Think about it, if the lockout were to go on until 2 weeks before the season started that would mean teams would have 14 days to negotiate a contract with a player and then get him to camp and teach him a whole new offensive or defensive system in time for Week 1 of the regular season.  I think that would be a major problem for a lot of teams and might cause them to stick with the personnel they already in place as opposed to going out and acquiring a player via free agency.

Another factor to consider is the NFL draft.  Since free agency is currently frozen a lot of teams will be filling the holes on their roster with players from the draft since they can't go out and sign somebody.  So for example if a team needs a cornerback they may be forced to draft one rather than hope a new CBA gets done in time for them to sign a guy like Antonio Cromartie.  And if a team drafts a corner and has to give that player a new contract they will be far less likely to go out and spend even more money on a free agent.

Lastly there is the human element to consider.  One would think that players would be less likely to switch teams so late in the off-season because it would mean uprooting their family and potentially moving them across the country with only a few weeks notice.  Not many people enjoy moving and relocating their entire life at the drop of a hat so that may be a factor when it comes time for Jets players to make a decision about whether or not to resign with the team.

So if you look at it the longer this lockout lasts the more likely it becomes that the Jets will retain their key free agents and as fan of the team you have to like that.  There were a lot of reports that claimed the Jets would let Antonio Cromartie go if it meant keeping both Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards but now that may be a moot point because they could potentially keep them all.

The Jets are benefiting in other ways as well.  A few days ago ESPN released a report by Adam Schefter that showed how players would be losing out on their off-season workout bonuses because there was a lockout. Basically players have stipulations in their contract that state if they participate in a certain percentage of team led off-season workouts they would receive a bonus.  Well since there is lockout currently in place the players can't workout with their teams which is costing them money and saving the owners tones.

Here are some of the Jets players that won't be getting bonuses should the lockout continue:

D'Brickashaw Ferguson     $750,000
Bryan Thomas                   $500,000
Mike DeVito                     $350,000
Calvin Pace                       $250,000
Bart Scott                         $250,000
LaDainian Tomlinson         $200,000

That equals up to $2.3 million in savings for the Jets just from workout bonuses that won't need to be paid due to the lockout.  It may not seem like a lot of money but in the end that's $2.3 million that can be put back into the team in other areas that may be more beneficial.

So while most fans are struggling with the idea that there may not be football fans of the Jets should be looking at the silver lining in all of this.   The dream scenario would be that the lockout ends about 10 days before the start of the season which would give the Jets a chance to resign all of their key free agents and get in one pre-season game and some practices before the real season started.  Fingers crossed.

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