The Jets began trimming their roster on Tuesday, when they released defensive lineman Henry Anderson.
The move cleared $8.2 million in salary-cap space for the Jets, bringing their estimated total to $76.1 million, the second-most in the NFL according to Over The Cap. The Jets are in position to be big spenders when free agency officially opens March 17.
Cutting Anderson was not a move the Jets needed to make to clear space. They already had plenty. But Anderson’s production did not match his salary. Anderson was scheduled to make $8.2 million in 2021 with a salary cap figure of $9.5 million. Anderson had just one-half sack in 2020 and had just one sack in 2019.
Moving on from Anderson was an easy call for general manager Joe Douglas since the 29-year-old had no more guaranteed money left on his contract. The move had been expected this offseason.
The bigger question is whether Douglas will keep chopping at the roster to clear more cap room. There are no other decisions that would be as easy as cutting Anderson. The Jets could clear $10.3 million by releasing wide receiver Jamison Crowder, but he was their leading receiver in each of the past two seasons. Douglas could also make some moves on the offensive line — where tackle George Fant ($7.8 million in savings), guard Alex Lewis ($5.1 million) and guard Greg Van Roten ($3.4 million) are all possible cap casualties.
Former GM Mike Maccagnan acquired Anderson during the 2018 draft, trading a sixth-round pick to the Colts for the 6-foot-6 defensive lineman. Anderson paid immediate dividends, coming up with seven sacks in 2018, tied for the team high. The Jets rewarded him with a three-year, $25.2 million deal (with $17 million guaranteed) in March 2019.
But Anderson struggled to make an impact in the past two seasons. A shoulder injury slowed him down in 2019, and in 2020, while he played well against the run, he was a nonfactor as a pass rusher. He started eight games last season and played in all 16. In three seasons, he started 24 of the 45 games he played for the Jets.
In addition to the $8.2 million in savings against the salary cap, releasing Anderson leaves $1.3 million in dead money.