Imagine coming off of a four-win season and possessing a minuscule amount of salary-cap space. Such is life for the New York Giants.
The G-Men are in the midst of a crucial offseason under first-year general manager Joe Schoen. They have multiple holes to fill on a last-place roster, yet very little money to do so. And with the 2022 NFL Draft just weeks away, the Giants will need to start formulating a plan to pay their promising rookies.
Even though Schoen has done quite a bit over the past two months, one look at the budget will tell you that his offseason work is far from over.
The New York Giants possess less than $1 million in cap space
It’s not as if the Giants have sat on their hands while 31 other teams have wild spending sprees. New York was able to add a few players despite starting the offseason more than $7 million over the cap. Most notably, the team inked OG Mark Glowinski to a three-year, $20 million deal and QB Tyrod Taylor on a two-year, $11 million pact. Big Blue also signed a few veterans to one-year deals, including TE Ricky Seals-Jones, C Jon Feliciano, and RB Matt Breida.
Of course, the Giants have cleared out plenty of money too. New York cut TE Kyle Rudolph, RB Devontae Booker, and P Riley Dixon, saving approximately $10 million in cap space. It also released veteran safety and defensive captain Logan Ryan, a move that saved just around $800K. Additionally, the four-time champs were able to restructure the contracts for WR Sterling Shepard and LB Blake Martinez, saving another $10 million.
So what’s Big Blue’s current cap situation? Entering Sunday, New York has just $777.8K in cap space. Besides the New England Patriots, who just went over the cap after acquiring WE DeVante Parker, that’s less space than every other team in football.
Although the Giants made some cuts, nearly all of their high-priced contracts remain. DE Leonard Williams, CB James Bradberry, and WR Kenny Golladay will count for $70.6 million on their own, while CB Adoree’ Jackson’s cap hit sits at $15.2 million. For what it’s worth, three of those players were signed to new deals last offseason, when former GM Dave Gettleman shelled out $157.4 million in free-agent contracts.
At least one huge move is still on the way
The Giants have at least one positive as they undergo yet another rebuild — no shortage of draft picks.
New York possesses nine picks ahead of this month’s draft, including No. 5 and No. 7 in the first round. That said, Spotrac projects that the G-Men will need approximately $16.2 million to sign their rookie class. With under $1 million in cap space now, that means Schoen is going to have to make some room one way or another.
There’s one veteran whose days in New York are all but over due to Gettleman’s malfeasance. Trading Bradberry, the team’s top cornerback, will save Big Blue close to $12 million in cap space alone. The 28-year-old is entering the final year of his three-year, $43.5 million contract and should fetch Schoen a decent return in the form of draft picks.
Bradberry isn’t the only one who should be looking over his shoulder. RB Saquon Barkley is entering the fifth and final season of his rookie deal. While head coach Brian Daboll has publicly discussed his plans for Barkley for this year’s offense, it doesn’t change the fact that the 25-year-old is due for a new contract after the season, one New York is unlikely to hand him. Plus, trading Saquon saves another $7.2 million.
Trading Bradberry and Barkley would get the Giants the $16.2 million needed to sign their draft picks. It would also help Schoen achieve his goal of clearing $40 million in cap space. That’s not even counting possible restructures for Williams and Golladay.
The Giants will trade a significant player between now and the draft. It’s just a matter of who and when.
The Giants’ cap issues could force them to trade down in the draft
New York has the luxury of owning two top-10 picks. Given what we know about this year’s draft class, Big Blue will secure two high-end prospects to bolster their four-win roster from a year ago.
However, there’s a downside to having two high picks — you gotta pay ’em.
According to Spotrac, the fifth overall pick will count for an estimated $6.3 million against the cap, while the seventh pick will count for around $4.9 million. And that’s not even getting to the seven other picks New York has between rounds two through seven.
Depending on how much salary Schoen clears ahead of the draft, the Giants might be thinking about trading down for at least one of those picks.
Consider this scenario: The Atlanta Falcons call the G-Men and ask about moving to the fifth pick. Atlanta, who’s currently at No. 8, wants to leapfrog the No. 6 Carolina Panthers and select a QB before its division rival. By moving down three spots, the Giants would go from paying $6.3 million to $4.3 million. Not only that, they’d accrue more draft capital for either this year or next while still landing a very good player.
New York could trade out of the top-10 as well, with teams like the Washington Commanders (No. 11), New Orleans Saints (No. 18), and Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 20) potentially inquiring about a quarterback. While the Giants would undoubtedly save money by moving further down, they’d require a much larger draft haul in order to make it worth their while.
These next few weeks will be critical for the future of the New York Giants. Expect Schoen to be very busy.
All contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.
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