The New York Jets’ defense took another hit Saturday when news broke that star inside linebacker C.J. Mosley had decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season because of health and safety concerns stemming from the effects of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
Espn.com first reported the story.
New York was counting on Mosley to anchor its defense in 2020, much the same way it was counting on him to do so in 2019 after then-general manager Mike Maccagnan signed the free agent, a longtime star with Baltimore, to a lucrative deal worth $43 million in fully guaranteed money. New York just traded superstar safety Jamal Adams to Seattle.
But Mosley suffered a groin injury in the season opener and then, obviously still struggling with the injury, made one more cameo appearance later in the season before finally being shut down for good.
Under the terms of the NFL’s opt-out policy for COVID-19, Mosley will receive a $150,000 stipend, or advance, which will be deducted from his 2021 base salary, which is $16 million, per overthecap.com. His contract will toll, or freeze, and now will run through the end of the 2024 season, rather than 2023.
However, he already had received a $10 million roster bonus from the Jets in March, and Mosley gets to keep that. The Jets cannot recoup it.
The positive, from the team’s standpoint, is that the Jets now gain an additional $7.5 million against the salary cap, $6 million for Mosley’s base salary plus his $1.5 million prorated bonus.
The Jets’ current cap figure is estimated at $21,214,502, according to overthecap.com. Subtracting Mosley’s in-season salary would bump up that number to $28,714,502, giving New York the flexibility to make another signing or two if general manager Joe Douglas so chooses.
What it means on the field is that veteran inside linebacker Avery Williamson becomes a key player a year after missing the entire season because of a knee injury.
Williamson’s salary-cap figure of $8.5 million, the fourth-highest on the Jets, could have made him expendable during what has turned into a rather unusual and challenging off-season because of the coronavirus. Perhaps the Jets had wanted how Mosley had looked on the field following off-season surgery before deciding how to deal with Williamson, who is in the final season of a three-year contract.
The Jets could save $6.5 million against the cap by cutting Williamson, with only $2 million in dead money. But Mosley’s opt-out would seem to make that a moot point.