Jets mailbag: What new cap space means in lingering Jadeveon Clowney saga

You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Jets.

[Jadeveon] Clowney would fill a big hole but at what cost? Problem is the Jets are not one player away and, considering the pandemic, does it make sense to spend on him, which could be a one-year rental? — Ira

Do the Jets still have room in the cap to add both Clowney and Logan Ryan with the recent moves made also including [C.J.] Mosley’s opt out? — John Santamaria

Lots of questions about Clowney and some about Ryan, too, with all the cap space the Jets now have. With Mosley opting out and the Jets releasing Brian Winters, they have about $30 million in salary cap space. That has fans salivating at the idea of Clowney and other big-name players.

The Jets have the cap space to do it, but I’d say don’t get your hopes up. The only way I see Joe Douglas signing Clowney or Ryan is if they came at a deep discount. I’m talking $5 million or less for the season, and those two have had asking prices well over that amount.

I think Douglas wants to carry over as much salary cap space as he can into 2021 when the cap is going to drop to $175 million. The Jets are projected to be one of the teams with the most cap space next year, according to Over The Cap. Now, the flip side of that is they don’t have a lot of players under contract for 2021 because of all the one-year deals they did this year. That means they are going to have to sign a good number of players in free agency.

Jadeveon ClowneyGetty Images

Douglas has positioned himself with the salary cap to make a splash signing or trade if he feels there is truly a great one to make. Don’t expect him to sign a lot of big names, though, now or next year.

With [Jamal] Adams getting traded and Mosley opting out, does [Adam] Gase get a pass for this season should the defense struggle and team fail, or will he be graded on the offense? — Michael

I don’t think there’s such a thing as a pass for a coach, Michael. You evaluate the whole body of work. Do you take certain things like injuries and roster talent into account? Sure. But I would not say he automatically gets a pass. The only exception is if the season is canceled because of COVID-19. That’s a different story.

Yes, Gase will be evaluated largely on how the offense performs, and more specifically quarterback Sam Darnold. If Darnold plays well and the Jets go 7-9, Gase should be back in 2021. If Darnold takes a step back or shows no signs of progress, Gase will be in trouble.

Will this team be playing meaningful football at Halloween, or will it be another in a string of seasons that are over before the World Series ends? — Gary Schneider

I think they will be hovering around .500 by Halloween, Gary. They start off with three tough games — at Bills, 49ers and at Colts. That could be an 0-3 start. But the schedule eases up with home games against the Broncos and Cardinals, a trip to play the Chargers and a home game against the Bills before Halloween. I think you should be happy if they are 3-4.

Who becomes the new most important player on the defense? — Andrew Florio

Quinnen Williams is the guy in my eyes, Andrew. He was taken No. 3 overall and did not make much of an impact last year. That could have been due to a high-ankle sprain he suffered early in the year or just rookie ups and downs. Whatever it was, he needs to have a better second year to give the Jets hope that he is a foundational piece.

Submit your Jets questions to be answered in an upcoming mailbag

Over/Under Darnold TDs? — Mark B.

He went from 17 as a rookie to 19 last year, so let’s set the number at 21½ this season.

If players opt out, can they opt back into the season after a certain amount of time? — Michael Berger

No, once they opt out they can’t come back this season.

Is there any hope? — Manny Swanson

This is the most 2020 question of the bunch. There’s always hope, Manny. For the Jets fans, your greatest hope is Darnold takes a huge leap this year and puts the team on his back. If that happens, you could have a fun year.