In psychology, the sunk cost fallacy states that individuals are less willing to change a strategy or decision if they have a lot invested in it. Importantly, this is true even when a change in strategy or decision may be beneficial.
We often believe that NFL decision makers are immune to such emotionally driven decisions, but at the end of the day these decision makers are human and therefore they can fall victim to such bias just like you or me. Accordingly , I thought it would be interesting to work through some key decisions the New York Jets will have to make over the next few weeks when it comes to whether or not to keep a player. In it, I will outline the impact of the cap, focusing on what the team would gain by eliminating that player rather than focusing on the dead cap (the sunk cost) attributed to the player. In that regard, I will not offer my own thoughts on what should be done, but will leave the discussion in the comments section to all of you.
The fifth installment in this series will feature wide receiver Braxton Berrios, who was signed last offseason.
Berrio’s appearance in 2022
As a proxy for his performance, I choose the player grades from profootballfocus. (Note: This is by no means meant to be the be-all and end-all of his level of performance, merely an estimate of how someone else viewed his performance. I encourage you to rely on your own assessment of the player within this general indication of the exercise. )
According to the PFF, Braxton Berrios’ grades in 2022 were as follows:
- Total: 62.8
- For passing games: 60.2
- On his rushing games: 72.6
Berrios’ contract until 2023
The relevant contract numbers from Berrios are now as follows (all data from overthecap.com):
- 2023 cap: $8,232,500
- Dead cap 2023: $3,232,500
- Savings for 2023 (cut before June 1st): $5,000,000 with no additional dead cap in 2024
- Savings for 2023 (cut after June 1st): $5,000,000 with no additional dead cap in 2024
As is usual with other teams, the Jets could also look to extend or restructure Berrios’ contract to reduce his cap hit, but that would come with additional guarantees in the years to come.
Comparable contracts within his salary savings (if reduced before June 1)
When determining a player’s value, the overall market must also be considered, which in turn can be valued at overthecap. Below is a list of wide receivers on their second contract who have deals in the $5.0 million per year range (the cost savings associated with cutting Braxton Berrios):
- Kendrick Bourne (PFF score of 63.6)
- Jamal Agnew (PFF score of 72.0)
- Byron Pringle (PFF score of 62.9)
- Juju Smith-Schuster (PFF grade 70.8)
We must also consider which players will be available to acquire them. This is largely approached through one of two routes: design or free agency.
Given that any draft-declaring player could theoretically be drafted, I choose to omit this information, but encourage you to do your own research into which players are eligible based on their skills and likely draft round.
Given the much shorter nature of a free agent list, I’m providing a list of the free agent wideouts that had snap counts in the Braxton Berrios range this year (with the caveat that we’re not sure at this point , which players will return. sign with their team until the start of free agency). Importantly, Snap Count was chosen as my pick variable because Berrios is a part-time player and players typically don’t try to sign to teams where their role is reduced. Braxton had 296 snaps in 2022, so I’m listing wide receivers who had between 250 and 325 offensive snaps last season.
- Zach Pascal (Philadelphia Eagles: 62.6 overall PFF score)
- Sammy Watkins (Green Bay Packers and then Baltimore Ravens: 62.2 overall PFF score)
- Cal Sims (Washington Commanders: PFF Aggregate Score of 50.4)
- Mecole Hardman (Kansas City Chiefs: 67.9 overall PFF score)
- Jarvis Landry (New Orleans Saints: 67.3 overall PFF score)
- Damiere Byrd (Atlanta Falcons: 66.6 overall PFF score)
- Byron Pringle (Chicago Bears: 62.9 overall PFF score)
- Marcus Johnson (New York Giants: 53.7 overall PFF score)
What do you think?
Above I have provided what I believe is a general overview of the relevant information regarding Braxton Berrios’ contract status for the 2023 New York Jets. If you were Jets general manager Joe Douglas, how would you go about it? Is Braxton Berrios staying on your roster or do you think his ~5M cap savings would be better used elsewhere?