NEW YORK — The New York Jets entered free agency with a little extra wiggle room under the salary cap.
The team restructured the contracts of wide receiver Santonio Holmes and cornerback Antonio Cromartie on Tuesday, and cut nose tackle Sione Po’uha, saving the Jets about $11.5 million in cap space.
Holmes, coming off a serious foot injury, was due to make $11 million in base salary, with $7.5 million guaranteed. Holmes’ salary for this season dropped from $11 million to $7.5 million, according to NFLPA records. The restructuring was first reported by ESPN on Tuesday.
Holmes, who signed a five-year, $45 million contract in 2011, would have cost the Jets an $11.25 million cap hit if he had been released. But Holmes agreed to restructure his deal to help the Jets add some cap room.
He injured the middle of his foot in Week 4, and missed the rest of the season. New offensive co-ordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Monday that Holmes is expected to be healthy by training camp.
Cromartie, whose restructured deal was first reported by the Daily News, drops his base salary from $7 million to about $840,000 — with an $8.5 million signing bonus spread out over two years.
Po’uha was due to make $4.9 million in base salary this season, which would have become guaranteed if he remained on the roster Thursday. A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that the Jets cut Po’uha a few hours before the start of free agency, saving the Jets about $3.8 million on the salary cap.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team had not yet announced the move.
The 34-year-old Po’uha missed four games last season while dealing with back troubles after signing a three-year, $15 million contract last off-season. He was New York’s third-round pick out of Utah in 2005. He has 263 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks and a safety during his career. Po’uha became a full-time starter for the Jets in 2009, when he filled in for the injured Kris Jenkins, and then did so again the following season when Jenkins suffered yet another season-ending — and, it turned out, career-ending — knee injury.
According to NYJetscap.com, a site that tracks the team’s salary cap numbers, the Jets are about $15.5 million under after the first day of free agency.