How Jets can maximize cap space and set up blockbuster 2019

This week's New York Jets mailbag contains questions about their crazy-good cap situation, Sam Darnold's chances of being the Week 1 starter and their Achilles' heel on special teams:

@RichCimini: Right now, they have $20.3 million in cap space, which ranks seventh in the league, according to overthecap.com. That number is a bit deceiving, though, because it doesn't include Darnold's contract. Remember, he hasn't signed yet. When he does, he'll carry a $5.5 million cap charge, so the team will be under $16 million in room.

Still, that's a pretty good situation because it'll allow roster flexibility. If general manager Mike Maccagnan wants to swing a big trade in the preseason, as he did last summer with Sheldon Richardson-for-Jermaine Kearse and a second-round pick, he won't have to worry about cap constraints. He also could use the money to re-up with players entering their free-agent year, but, honestly, I don't think the Jets have any candidates right now.

You asked about Bashaud Breeland. He's one of the top remaining free agents, but I think the Jets are comfortable with their cornerback situation. Maybe they will change their mind if Morris Claiborne's wrist injury lingers well into training camp, but they don't expect that to happen. Maccagnan is always looking -- see Courtney Upshaw, whom they signed Thursday -- so you can never say "never." But at this stage of the game, we're talking about minimum-salary free agents.

Yes, the Jets can roll the unused cap money into next year. Right now, they have a league-high $88 million in cap space for 2019 -- and that number will increase with the rollover. Once again, they will have the ability to be big spenders. That bodes well for their future.

@RichCimini: Sorry, Rich, I don't agree. The Jets open the season with three games in 11 days, including two on the road -- and that would be extremely difficult for a rookie. The opponents might not seem all that tough on paper, but the circumstances raise the degree of difficulty. The Jets open in Detroit on Monday Night Football -- a tough spot for a rookie. Then comes a short week to prepare for the Dolphins, then a shorter week for the Browns on Thursday night. Yeah, the Browns are coming off 0-16, but it would be hard for Darnold on a quick turnaround to prepare for Gregg Williams' blitz-heavy defense.

We haven't even mentioned their Week 4 opponent, the Jaguars, who own the best defense in the league.

If I'm Todd Bowles, I wouldn't throw Darnold into this kind of fire unless he's head and shoulders above Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater.

@RichCimini: As a punt returner, he looks shaky. He was a wildly successful kickoff returner at Virginia State, but punt returning is new to him -- and you can tell. He doesn't look natural; he appears unsteady as he settles under the punt. Special teams coordinator Brant Boyer acknowledged it has been "a little bit of an adjustment" for Cannon, who has crazy speed but lacks seasoning as both a returner and running back.

You're right, Art, it's mind-boggling that they can't find a weapon in the return game. The last time they scored on a return was Oct. 8, 2012, a 100-yard kickoff return by the late Joe McKnight.