The fun and games are over, and now we get down to the business portion of the NFL calendar.
With a projected $47 million in salary-cap room, the New York Jets are under no pressure whatsoever to dump high-priced players, but they may make some cuts in the coming weeks as various financial deadlines approach.
A look at the potential cap casualties:
Percy Harvin, wide receiver ($10.5 million cap charge): Former general manager John Idzik executed a desperation trade last October that made sense on the risk-reward scale, but the landscape has changed. Not only is $10.5 million too much money for a player of Harvin's ilk, but there's also draft-pick compensation to consider. The Jets owe the Seattle Seahawks a conditional sixth-round pick that improves to a fourth-rounder if they keep him on the roster until March 19. The X factor is offensive coordinator Chan Gailey; his spread offense would be a nice fit for Harvin (if that's the system they choose to run). The March 19 deadline allows the Jets to explore free agency before making a decision on Harvin, who hasn't been an impact player since 2011.
Chris Johnson, running back ($5.25 million): The Jets have until Feb. 16 to decide whether to pay a $500,000 option bonus, part of the two-year, $8 million contract Johnson signed last April. The amount of the bonus isn't prohibitive, but the cap charge is steep for a player who would be no more than a part-time back again. Johnson was a worthwhile signing a year ago, but he'll be 30 in September and isn't close to being the player he once was. The Jets can save $3.5 million by parting ways with Johnson. That probably will be the outcome.
Calvin Pace, linebacker ($2.25 million): To keep him, the Jets have to pay a $250,000 option bonus before the start of the league year, March 10. It's not a crazy number, and neither is Pace's cap charge. The most important number to consider is 34 -- Pace's age. If new coach Todd Bowles puts an emphasis on getting younger and faster on defense, it probably means Pace isn't a fit. Bill Parcells used to have a label for players like Pace; he called them "progress stoppers." If they commit to Pace for another year, it will stunt the development of second-year linebackers Trevor Reilly and IK Enemkpali. The Jets can save $2.125 million by cutting Pace.
Jason Babin, linebacker ($1.625 million): Like Pace, Babin is due a $250,000 roster bonus. He's a useful player because he's a pass-rushing specialist with the ability to play every down in a pinch. He's also a pass-rushing specialist who had only two sacks, so there's that. As with Pace, it's an age issue more than a financial issue; Babin will be 35 in May. How many mid-30s linebackers can a rebuilding team have? The Jets would save $1.325 million by dropping him.