C.J. Mosley (LB)

Jets Restructure LB C.J. Mosley’s Contract

Already in better shape than most teams in terms of 2022 cap space, the Jets manufactured significantly more breathing room today. New York restructured the contract of linebacker C.J. Mosley, per ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter link). 

As a result of the move, Mosley will see $14.88MM of his base salary converted into a signing bonus, helping to create $11.9MM in cap space for the 2022 season. Two void years have also been tacked on to his deal, which expires in 2024.

The 30-year-old signed a market-altering five-year, $85MM deal in free agency in 2019. The contract’s $17MM annual average value was a record for inside linebackers at the time, and has since been surpassed only by Shaquille Leonard and Fred Warner. In the two years following that contract being signed, however, the four-time Pro Bowler played in just a pair of games due to injury and opting out of the 2020 campaign.

That led to Mosley being frequently named as a trade candidate. Last March, the Jets fielded calls on him, but they elected to keep him in the fold. Finally healthy and available again in 2021, he ranked fourth in the NFL with 168 tackles, adding two sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. Encouraged by that performance, perhaps, this financial move likely ensures that Mosely will remain with the team for at least one more season.

Mosley’s 2023 and 2024 cap hits will now rise to $21.48MM. No guaranteed money remains out of the outstanding $50MM left to be paid out on the deal. Nevertheless, the team’s dead cap charge would outweigh their savings in the event of a release or trade prior to June 1 next year. Given the cumbersome cap hit, however, an extension could be in play, or perhaps more likely, an attempt to get Mosley to take a pay cut like Jamison Crowder did last year.

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Defense

After looking at this year’s top salary cap numbers on the offensive side of the ball, here is a rundown of the players counting the most toward their teams’ payrolls in 2022.

As could be expected, the salary figures here start below the quarterbacks. A few pass rushers, however, are tied to notable cap hits. Those numbers that check in within the top 20 leaguewide regardless of position. With the exception of true nose tackles and pure slot cornerbacks, every defensive position is represented here.

Here are the top cap figures on the defensive side for the ’22 season:

  1. T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $31.12MM
  2. Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $29.42MM
  3. Joey Bosa, OLB (Chargers): $28.25MM
  4. Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $27.3MM
  5. Aaron Donald, DT (Rams): $27MM
  6. Jalen Ramsey, CB (Rams): $23.2MM
  7. Deion Jones, LB (Falcons): $20.1MM
  8. Bud Dupree, OLB (Titans): $19.2MM
  9. Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.85MM
  10. Javon Hargrave, DT (Eagles): $17.8MM
  11. C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $17.5MM
  12. Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $17.42MM
  13. Robert Quinn, DE (Bears): $17.14MM
  14. Matt Judon, OLB (Patriots): $16.5MM
  15. DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $16MM
  16. Shaquill Griffin, CB (Jaguars): $16.44MM
  17. Tre’Davious White, CB (Bills): $16.4MM
  18. J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals): $15.9MM
  19. Marcus Peters, CB (Ravens): $15.5MM
  20. Carl Lawson, DE (Jets): $15.33MM
  21. Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $15.1MM
  22. Lavonte David, LB (Buccaneers): $14.79MM
  23. Budda Baker, S (Cardinals): $14.78MM
  24. Romeo Okwara, DE (Lions): $14.5MM
  25. Trey Hendrickson, DE (Bengals): $14.49MM
  • Illustrating how much the cap has climbed over the past several seasons, T.J. Watt is tied to a number nearly twice that of J.J. Watt, who has been tied to $16.7MM-per-year (a defender-record number in 2014) and $14MM-AAV deals as a pro. Trailing his older brother in Defensive Player of the Year honors, T.J. is signed to an edge defender-record $28MM-per-year accord.
  • Jones’ four-year Chiefs deal vaults from an $8.5MM cap number in 2021 to the league’s second-highest defensive figure this year. The standout defensive tackle’s cap hit accompanies Patrick Mahomes‘ $35.79MM number, which is well north of his 2021 figure, on Kansas City’s new-look payroll.
  • After two franchise tags, Williams scored a monster extension in 2021. The well-paid Giants D-lineman’s cap number this year is way up from his 2021 number ($9.4MM).
  • The Rams redid Donald’s contract last month, adding no new years to the through-2024 pact. The all-world defender’s cap hit actually decreases in 2023, dropping to $26MM
  • It is not certain Deion Jones will be back with the Falcons, who have jettisoned other Super Bowl LI cornerstones from the roster since the current regime took over in 2021. But they would save just $1MM were they to release the seventh-year linebacker.
  • To date, this represents the high-water mark for Mosley cap hits on his Jets deal, which at the time (2019) began a sea change for off-ball linebacker contracts. Mosley’s cap hit, on a pact that runs through 2024 because of the linebacker opting out of the 2020 season, increased by $10MM from 2021-22.
  • Hargrave is one of five Eagles pass rushers signed to veteran contracts. The ex-Steeler’s 2021 deal accompanies Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, and Fletcher Cox‘s new agreement on Philadelphia’s defensive front. As cap hits do not reflect average salaries, Hargrave is the only member of this quartet tied to an eight-figure cap number in 2022.
  • Quinn has also been connected to a departure, with the 31-year-old pass rusher skipping minicamp after it became known he would like to be traded away from the rebuilding team. His cap hit tops the Bears’ payroll. The Bears would save $12.9MM by trading Quinn, should another team sign up for taking on his full 2022 base salary.

Trade Candidate: Jets LB C.J. Mosley

When C.J. Mosley inked a five-year, $85MM deal with the Jets during the 2019 offseason, the linebacker was expected to lead the team’s defense for at least the next half-decade. He’s certainly looked the part of a defensive stalwart through two games with the organization, collecting nine tackles, a pick-six, and a fumble recovery.

However, Mosley suffered a groin injury that ultimately sidelined him for all but two games during the 2019 season. The veteran ended up opting out of the 2020 campaign, meaning he’s only seen times in two games through two years. The Jets certainly haven’t received a return on their investment, and rival teams believe they may be able to make a move for the former Pro Bowler…we learned back in March that the front office had received calls on Mosley.

To be clear, those reports indicated that the Jets were receiving the trade calls, not necessarily initiating the trade calls. Plus, there haven’t been many developments over the past three-plus months. However, it’s still easy to see a path where the Jets justify moving their former major free agent acquisition, and it’s easy to understand why a rival team would take a chance on the veteran.

From the Jets standpoint, a Mosley trade would be mostly financial. Since he sat out the 2020 season, Mosley still has four years and $56MM left on his deal, including $22MM guaranteed (this remaining commitment is a big reason why Mosley won’t be released any time soon). The Jets aren’t necessarily hurting for money, but as the front office looks to introduce the Zach Wilson/Robert Saleh era, it’d make sense for them to move some future money with the hopes of loading up during future offseasons.

Further, the Jets have a bit of a logjam at the position after the team signed middle linebacker Jarrad Davis to a $5.5MM deal this offseason. The Jets defense is expected to play in a 4-3 scheme, meaning one of Davis or Mosley will either find themselves on the bench or playing (somewhat) out of position at outside linebacker. Sure, Davis probably isn’t the caliber of player who should be pushing a player like Mosley out of the lineup…but we also have no idea what to expect from a player who’s barely seen the field over the past two years.

If the Jets aren’t willing to take a risk on Mosley, why would another team? Well, for starters, the financial ramifications wouldn’t be as severe as you think. The 29-year-old’s 2021 cap hit is only $6MM, so while the future commitments may cause some teams to pause, you could easily see a contender talking themselves into Mosley’s upside (especially if the linebacker has a solid preseason). Plus, the trade costs surely wouldn’t be that high, meaning a team wouldn’t be compromising their future in a deal.

For what it’s worth, Mosley recently indicated that he has no worries about his ability to come back following a two-year absence:

“Yeah, I don’t have any doubts in myself,” he said during an appearance on The Official Jets Podcast (via the team website). “I mean, [Rob Gronkowski] took two years off [only one] and won a Super Bowl, so it is what it is. I’m here, so we’ll let the play do the talking.

“When you’re out for a while, you’re always in your head, thinking, ‘When I get back, how’s it going to feel? Am I going to be able to move like I used to?’ I feel great.”

Mosley has a chance to be a top comeback candidate, or he could emerge as an albatross contract. While the Jets will surely prefer to see the former option, they could ultimately reduce their risk, pivot more toward the future, and trade the linebacker over the next few months.

Jets Notes: Mosley, Draft Plans, Hoyer

The Jets reportedly received trade calls on linebacker C.J. Mosley this offseason, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says Mosley remains a trade candidate. As Randy Lange of the team’s official website writes, new head coach Robert Saleh recently offered high praise for Mosley, calling him a tremendous leader and player. Saleh also said Mosley is good enough to thrive in any system, including the 4-3 scheme that Saleh plans to implement (Mosley has not played in a 4-3 since he turned pro).

But New York did sign Jarrad Davis in free agency, and the team has been speculatively linked to high-end linebackers in the draft, like Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. If GM Joe Douglas does select an LB with a Day 1 or Day 2 choice, that could make a Mosley trade more likely (though obviously the return on such a trade would be minimal given Mosley’s contract and the fact that he has played all of two games in the last two years).

Now for more notes on the Jets:

  • Although Gang Green is going to select QB Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick, there is plenty of uncertainty as to what the club will do with the No. 23 overall selection. Cimini believes the team will ultimately go with a player to help Wilson, whether that’s an offensive lineman or a wide receiver. If that’s how Douglas is leaning, he might need to trade up to get the prospect he wants, and Connor Hughes of The Athletic tweets that Douglas has already done the “groundwork” on a potential move up the board.
  • Cornerback also profiles as a major need for the Jets, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them use the No. 23 pick or another early selection on a CB. According to Cimini, the club is intrigued by Syracuse corner Ifeatu Melifonwu, who looks like a second- or third-round talent. If the team doesn’t get a slot corner at some point in the draft, Hughes says the team could look to re-sign Brian Poole, whose 2020 season was cut short by injury but who has played well in his two seasons in the Meadowlands.
  • If the Jets don’t go with an offensive lineman with their second first-round choice, Hughes expects them to grab one with the No. 34 pick, and he also thinks they could pick up another blocker with one of their two third-round selections.
  • New York brought in veteran QB Brian Hoyer for a visit earlier this month, and he looks like an ideal backup/mentor for Wilson. Hughes reports that the team is likely to commence contract talks with the 35-year-old signal-caller after the draft.

Jets Receive Trade Calls On C.J. Mosley

The Jets just signed Jarrad Davis to a deal, and they now could be shipping out a different linebacker. New York has been receiving trade calls on C.J. Mosley, sources told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link).

That’s a bit surprising, considering Mosley is on what’s widely considered a very bad contract. He’s got four years and $56MM left on his current deal, and Pelissero writes that $22MM in guarantees remain on that. The Jets signed him to a massive five-year, $85MM deal in March of 2019, but he was limited to only two games that year due to a groin injury. He then opted out of this past season due to COVID-19.

As such, he’s barely played since 2018. A first-round pick of the Ravens in 2014, he was a second-team All-Pro in four of his five seasons in Baltimore. But the Alabama product has seen his stock drop significantly since then. That being said, Pelissero does point out that his 2021 cap hit to a potential new team would only be $6MM.

The signing of Davis makes Mosley look expendable to the rest of the league, and as Connor Hughes of The Athletic tweets, new Jets coach Robert Saleh recently offered a lukewarm assessment of his outlook with the team.

If the Jets do move Mosley, they likely wouldn’t get much at all in return. That’s not to say Mosley still couldn’t be a good player, he just comes with an AAV of $17MM. He’ll turn 29 in June.

2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker

Per an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, players with COVID-19 health concerns can opt out of the 2020 season. Initially, the deadline was believed to be Tuesday, August 4. Talks between the league and the union have pushed it to August 6.

Chiefs guard and medical school graduate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first player to officially opt out. Scores of players followed.

Here’s the rundown, so far:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • T Brad Seaton

Tennessee Titans

  • OL Anthony McKinney

Washington Football Team

Free agents

Jets LB C.J. Mosley To Opt Out

C.J. Mosley will become the latest player to pass on the 2020 season. The Jets linebacker is opting out, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

The former Ravens first-round pick’s Jets career barely started last year, with injury setbacks limiting him to 114 snaps in two games. Now, the Pro Bowl linebacker will wait until 2021 to make an impact with his second NFL team.

While the Jets are not expected to be a serious 2020 contender, this represents another major setback. They made Mosley the NFL’s highest-paid linebacker (by far) last year, in signing him to a five-year, $85MM deal. Bobby Wagner since surpassed that pact, but by 2021, Mosley will have played two of a possible 32 games with the Jets, who have already paid him $29MM.

With Jamal Adams now a teammate of Wagner’s in Seattle, after last weekend’s blockbuster trade, the Jets have lost their two best defenders in a seven-day span.

The second year of Mosley’s contract will toll to 2021, now making the deal run through the 2024 season. But this leaves a major hole among a Jets linebacking corps that also has Avery Williamson returning from a season-long injury absence. The Jets placed Williamson on their active/PUP list earlier this week.

Dont’a Hightower, Nate Solder and Damien Williams are among the biggest names to opt out. Mosley is the most decorated player set to skip the season. The 2014 first-rounder has made four Pro Bowls. The Ravens wanted to re-sign the inside linebacker last year, but the Alabama product understandably did not turn down a monster Jets offer that raised the off-ball ‘backer salary ceiling by nearly $3MM. Mosley has four 100-plus-tackle seasons on his resume.

A groin injury sidelined Mosley last season. He suffered the ailment in September, attempted to come back during a Monday night in October but aggravated the malady and missed the rest of the campaign. Mosley underwent surgery in December and received a clean bill of health in June. He will have more time to ensure he’s 100% now, with the Jets set to miss out on his age-28 season after mostly missing his age-27 slate.

Considering Mosley and Williamson’s salaries, the Jets are obviously limited at this position beyond their top two talents. While the Jets were a quality run-defending team without their top defensive investment, ranking second in DVOA against ground attacks, Pro Football Focus did not have a high opinion of any of their non-Mosley linebackers. The team signed former Mosley Baltimore teammate Patrick Onwuasor; his 2020 role stands to increase now. James Burgess, Neville Hewitt and 2019 fifth-round pick Blake Cashman are also part of Gang Green’s linebacking corps. Available free agents include ex-Giant Alec Ogletree, Mark Barron and Wesley Woodyard.

C.J. Mosley Cleared For Football Activities

Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley told reporters today that he has been given a clean bill of health and continues to expect that he will be a full participant in training camp (Twitter link via Connor Hughes of The Athletic). Mosley underwent surgery in December to remedy the groin/abdominal injury that cost him all but two games of the 2019 campaign, and it sounds as if his recovery has gone smoothly.

Mosley signed a massive five-year, $85MM free agent contract with New York last offseason, when former GM Mike Maccagnan was still running the show. New GM Joe Douglas eschewed such splashy signings in his first full free agent cycle, but Douglas will surely be happy to have Mosley anchoring the middle of his team’s defense.

Mosley, who will turn 28 on June 19, earned his payday after a very strong performance with Baltimore over his first five years in the league. The former first-round pick racked up four Pro Bowl nods during that time, and though he has his weaknesses in coverage, his instincts, tackling ability, and intelligence help to make up for that. He was also quite durable with the Ravens, playing in (and starting) 77 of a possible 80 regular season games, so the Jets are hoping last year’s injury was a blip in the radar.

Though Gang Green does not look like a playoff contender just yet, the way that Douglas is handling the construction of the club has generated some optimism. A healthy Mosley will go a long way towards re-establishing the Jets as a legitimate threat.

In 2018, his last full season, Mosley tallied 105 tackles, five passes defensed, and an interception that sealed a Week 17 win for the Ravens and clinched a playoff berth.

Jets Notes: Mosley, Bell, Flacco

Jets safety Jamal Adams remains a trade candidate, but count linebacker C.J. Mosley as a high-profile member of the defense that wants Adams to stick around.

“[Trading Adams] would be a crazy move,” Mosley said (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com). “First of all, he’s one of the leaders on the team. … To have that presence in the secondary, a guy that can make plays in the passing game and also plays in the backfield — in the box — that’s always exciting.” 

Mosley himself — who played in just two games in his first year with Gang Green after signing a massive free agent contract last offseason — said he feels great and expects to be at full health for training camp (assuming there is a training camp, of course).

Now let’s take a look at a few more Jets-related items:

  • Another big-name player who looks like a trade candidate is running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell disappointed in his first season with the Jets, and many believe he will be released after the 2020 campaign, which would allow the club to realize a significant cap savings with a fairly minimal dead money charge. But if the Jets look like non-contenders at the trade deadline, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv expects them to put Bell on the trade block in the hopes of recouping some sort of draft compensation for him.
  • The Jets addressed one of their biggest needs in the first round of the draft by adding massive Louisville LT Mekhi Becton. Becton may be more raw than some of his fellow LT prospects, but he also has a tremendously high ceiling, and he could be protecting Sam Darnold‘s blind side right away. However, free agent acquisition George Fant hopes to fill that role in 2020. Per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Fant wants to play on the left side, though the former Seahawk also indicated he is willing to play RT if necessary (Twitter link). “Right now I’m just ready for an opportunity,” Fant said.
  • GM Joe Douglas signed WR Breshad Perriman in free agency and added a high-upside receiving prospect in Denzel Mims in the draft, but Brian Costello of the New York Post believes the Jets could look into re-signing Demaryius Thomas. Thomas, 32, wants to continue his playing career, and though he is nowhere close to the player he once was, he proved himself to be a strong locker room presence in 2019 and could be a good mentor for Mims.
  • Veteran QB Joe Flacco may not be recovered from his neck surgery until late August or mid-September, but Cimini believes he would be a good fit for the Jets. In the same piece linked above, the ESPN scribe says New York must add a veteran backup for Darnold, and Douglas — who championed Flacco as a member of the Ravens’ staff in 2008 — could take a look at the former Super Bowl MVP.
  • Betty Wold Johnson, the mother of Jets owners Christopher Johnson and Woody Johnson, has passed away at the age of 99, as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk writes. Though Betty Johnson did not have a formal role with the team, she was considered the club matriarch and was beloved by players and execs.

AFC Notes: Ravens, Brady, Mosley

We heard at the end of December that the Ravens are prepared to slap pass rusher Matt Judon with the franchise tag if they cannot work out a long-term deal with him, but recent comments from head coach John Harbaugh suggested Judon could be suiting up elsewhere in 2020. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic says Baltimore may be disinclined to use the tag, as it would take up a big chunk of their cap and could alienate the emotional and outspoken Judon.

On the other hand, Judon is the only proven pass rusher on the team, and there’s no guarantee the Ravens can win a bidding war for one of this year’s top FAs or land a player at the bottom of the first round of the draft who can make an immediate impact, so GM Eric DeCosta will have to carefully weigh a number of factors.

Let’s round up a few other AFC items, starting with several more nuggets out of Baltimore:

  • The Ravens and veteran CB Jimmy Smith have mutual interest in a reunion, per Zrebiec. However, if Baltimore brings back Smith, it’s unlikely that CB/S Brandon Carr also returns. Meanwhile, the Ravens will almost certainly cut safety Tony Jefferson.
  • Regardless of what they do with Judon, the Ravens will have to add three or four starting-caliber players to their front seven, so Zrebiec expects the team to focus on those areas heavily in the draft, and he fully expects DeCosta to draft a WR or two.
  • Add Jay Glazer of The Athletic to the list of pundits who believe a Tom BradyRaiders partnership makes sense. Like others, Glazer thinks the Chargers are an obvious non-Patriots landing spot, but given the international presence that the Las Vegas outfit is expected to have, both Brady and the team would stand to benefit from a Sin City marriage.
  • In a recent interview with Eddie Paskal of the team’s official website, Raiders GM Mike Mayock said he believes the move to Las Vegas will help the club attract top free agents, even those not named Brady. The fact that Nevada does not have a state income tax will obviously be appealing, as will the sleek new stadium and the general excitement surrounding the franchise. Mayock also noted that he will look to add wide receiver help this offseason.
  • Jets LB C.J. Mosley had to undergo groin/abdominal surgery about six weeks ago, but he expects to be ready for the team’s offseason program this spring, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. One of last year’s biggest free agent fish, Mosley played in just two games for Gang Green, and he has started a vegan diet in the hopes of giving himself an edge.