Jets have 29th pick, UFA limitations

INDIANAPOLIS -- The New York Jets went to the Hoosier state with Super Bowl aspirations.

They left with the 29th draft choice.

Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game settles the AFC East's draft order. The Jets were assigned their slot ahead of the Minnesota Vikings based on regular-season records.

There's special significance to drafting 25th and later this year.

Clubs assigned the final eight draft slots in the first round are under free-agency restrictions because of a stipulation in the collective bargaining agreement that pertains to the final year of the contract.

The Jets and the other seven teams that made it past the first round of the playoffs won't be allowed to sign a free agent unless one of their free agents signs with somebody else.

Unless a new CBA is hammered out before the draft -- virtually impossible -- here is an outline of what will happen (from a release the NFL recently distributed):

During the final league year, the eight clubs that make the divisional playoffs in the previous season have additional restrictions that limit their ability to sign unrestricted free agents from other clubs. In general, the four clubs participating in the championship games are limited in the number of free agents that they may sign; the limit is determined by the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs. They cannot sign any UFAs unless one of theirs is signed by another team.

For the four clubs that lost in the divisional playoffs, in addition to having the ability to sign free agents based on the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs, they may also sign players based on specific financial parameters. Those four only will be permitted to sign one unrestricted free agent for $5.5 million (estimated) or more in year one of the contract, plus the number of their UFAs who sign with another team. They also can sign any unrestricted free agents for less than $3.7 (estimated) million in year one of the contract with limitations on the per-year increases.

In the case of all final eight teams, the first-year salary of UFAs they sign to replace those lost cannot exceed the first-year salary of the player lost with limitations on the per-year increases.