Over the past few weeks you have been hearing about the Jets cap space problem, the problem being they had no cap space. What you also likely heard was that Mike Tannenbaum would work his magic and free up cap space by cutting some players (like Eric Smith) and restructuring the large contracts of others. Well it seems Tannenbaum has already started this process as D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s contract being restructured is the first domino to fall.

According to the NY Daily News, Ferguson and the Jets have agreed to convert, “$9 million of Ferguson’s $9.985 million base salary in 2012 to a signing bonus to give the team more cap space.” With this move the Jets can spread the signing bonus over the course of the remaining six years on Ferguson’s contract which will free up $7.5 million in cap space for this season, according to the Daily News.

In the first of what will undoubtably be many moves by the Jets GM, D'Brickahaw Ferguson and Mike Tannenbaum worked out a deal to convert $9 million of his salary to a signing bonus to be spread over the next six years, freeing up $7.5 million in cap space for this season. (Jetsinsider.com Photo)

In what is becoming a bit of an annual tradition, Tannenbaum crunches the numbers to figure out ways to get out of the cap hell they continually put themselves in by doing just this exact type of move. In order to save money now they must commit to pay more down the line so they can find themselves right back in the same position year-after-year. This isn’t a bad strategy for a team that wants needs to win now, but fans should get used to this because this is the only way to take advantage of the talent that is currently on the roster. Freeing up $7.5 million for this year’s cap is nice and all, but it’s not enough for the Jets to be as active in free agency as they would like, which is why you will be seeing more moves like this over the next few weeks.

Ferguson might have made the Pro Bowl, but he had a less than sub-par season so getting his cap number down is big as it should help pave the way for others to shuffle their money around until later years. Head over to nyjetscap.com to see an updated list of the Jets salary cap commitments if you’d like to take a look at who else you think might be an option to have their contract restructured to create even more space. First on most people’s list will likely be Mark Sanchez who currently has a base salary of $8.5 million (cap value of $14, 253, 125) scheduled for the 2012 season, but he only has two more years left on his contract so the Jets can’t shave as much of this year’s cap as they did with Ferguson since they don’t have those extra years to work with.

The Jets will likely save some money by restructuring Sanchez’s contract, but the biggest savings would come from restructuring the contracts of players like David Harris ($9.9 million base salary for next year) who have more years on their contract for the money to be distributed thus freeing up more space for this season. Unfortunately there aren’t too many options like that for the Jets as the team has already guaranteed the 2012 salary for players like Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Wayne Hunter and Santonio Holmes, but there are still other options.

Antonio Cromartie has a base salary of $3.8 million, Nick Mangold $2.2 million and Dustin Keller with $3 million are all options for the Jets to possibly restructure and free up money for the 2012 season. Although as with Sanchez none of them alone will make a dent in the cap like Ferguson did or Harris could, but in some combination they could absolutely create enough room to give the Jets the money to be not only active, but aggressive in free agency.

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