A few New York Jets-related takeaways from the NFL scouting combine, which concluded Monday:
1. Rolling in green: On Monday, the league notified teams the salary cap will be set at $177.2 million, up from $167 million last year. It's only a six-percent increase, the smallest since 2013. This doesn't dramatically affect the Jets because team officials anticipated a number close to $177 million.
So where do the Jets stand? To paraphrase Larry David, they're in pretty, pretty good shape. They're $89.3 million under the cap, according to overthecap.com -- second in the league behind the Cleveland Browns ($108.7 million).
Muhammad Wilkerson's release became official on Monday, so now the finances can be etched in stone. The Jets will incur a $9 million cap hit, but will realized a net savings of $11 million. They picked up another $7.5 million by saying goodbye to Matt Forte and declining Ben Ijalana's option.
In case you're wondering, the top-five cap charges are:
Kelvin Beachum -- $9.5 million
Wilkerson -- $9 million
Buster Skrine -- $8.5 million
Brian Winters -- $7 million
James Carpenter -- $6.8 million
2. O-line under microscope: Three of the top five charges belong to the offensive line (Beachum, Winters and Carpenter), and yet coach Todd Bowles made it clear he wasn't happy with the line's performance.
"I didn't think we played as well last year as we played the previous two years," Bowles said. "Obviously, some people were injured and playing hurt. That goes along with it, but I look forward to them making a jump this year. And keeping everybody healthy, I think, they can make the jump."
Actually, the offensive line was relatively healthy, statistically. The starters missed a combined total of only eight games -- four by Brandon Shell, three by Winters and one by Wesley Johnson. Bowles was referring to Winters (torn abdominal muscle) when he mentioned guys playing hurt.
3. Cousins sweepstakes: I wouldn't put too much weight on recent reports that suggest Kirk Cousins has narrowed his choices to the Jets and Minnesota Vikings. Why would Cousins eliminate potential bidders? That wouldn't be a smart business decision.
In the end, I think Cousins will sign with the Vikings, but the Jets still have a shot. Because of their cap situation, they can be ultra flexible with their offer. They can give him a massive roster bonus in year one because they can easily absorb a cap charge over $30 million.
From a football/winning standpoint, the Vikings make more sense than the Jets, whose best chance is to make him an offer he can't refuse (Marlon Brando voice).
4. Plan B: If the Jets miss on Cousins, it wouldn't surprise me if they acquire two veteran quarterbacks and draft another, as I mentioned in my Sunday-morning notes. The depth chart could look something like this:
This is called covering your bases ... hedging your bets ... pick any cliche. This approach certainly would address short- and long-term needs.
5. Optimistic take on D-line: Mike Maccagnan's comments on the defensive line came as a bit of a surprise. The position has experienced a significant talent drain in recent years, and yet the general manager sounded comfortable with the current personnel.
Besides Leonard Williams and Steve McLendon, they don't have another every-down player under contract. Maccagnan said he'd like to re-sign Mike Pennel, a pending free agent, but Pennel is a rotational run defender. He praised Kony Ealy, another prospective free agent, but he stopped short of saying he wants him back.
"I don't necessarily view it as a position of need, per se, for us right now," the GM said. "I think we feel pretty good about the players we have. There are other positions we're probably more focused on going into the offseason. ... I wouldn't necessarily rule it out, but I don't think it's a high priority for us right now."
I know what you're thinking: What about a Sheldon Richardson reunion? The Seattle Seahawks are trying to re-sign him before he hits the open market. If he does, the Jets probably won't have interest, I'm told.