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How the Jets can create cap space for Ryan Fitzpatrick (if he returns)

The New York Jets remain a hot topic around the NFL because of their multi-layered quarterback situation. Our question of the week concerns money and the quarterback position, two of our favorite subjects.

@RichCimini: As of Friday, the Jets had $4 million in cap space, according to NFLPA records, but that may not include their most recent rookie signings.

As for Ryan Fitzpatrick's situation, it's impossible to predict the required cap space unless we know the structure of the contract. Everybody is saying $8 million, but what does that mean? Is it one-year, $8 million total? Is it a multi-year deal with $8 million guaranteed? It could be a two-year, $20 million offer, including a $4 million signing bonus and a guaranteed base salary of $4 million in 2016. We just don't know; both sides have been extremely tight-lipped.

This much we know: They'll have to create some cap space to sign him, regardless of the structure. They can restructure a couple of contracts, starting with Buster Skrine. His $6.5 million salary already is guaranteed, which makes it easier to re-work the deal. If they drop his base to $760,000 and give him the rest in a signing bonus, they'd lower his cap charge from $7.75 million to $3.9 million -- a $3.85 million savings. They did pretty much the same thing with James Carpenter in March.

Eric Decker is due to make a non-guaranteed $6.5 million, so they also can save $3.85 million with a simple restructuring. It would reduce his cap charge from $8 million to $4.15 million. Between Decker and Skrine, you're talking about close to $8 million in additional cap space.

They could go to Brandon Marshall (a max $4.3 million cap savings), but you're always reluctant to approach players over 30 because there's a good chance they will be released before their contract expires. And you know what that means: The team's cap gets hammered with the money it pushed to the back end of the contract by restructuring. The same theory applies to Darrelle Revis, who has a team-high $17 million cap charge. In Marshall's case, it would be somewhat palatable because there's no pro-rated signing bonus counting on the cap; it's just base salary.

Another way to add cap room would be to sign Muhammad Wilkerson to a long-term contract by the July 15 deadline, but that appears unlikely. Barring a deal, the Jets will carry Wilkerson's $15.7 million franchise tender into the season. That's not good cap management, but there are other issues involved with a potential Wilkerson deal.

Getting back to your question, Joel: The Jets can easily create cap space for Fitzpatrick; that's the least of their worries. The bigger problem is agreeing on a contract.