Hey there, just wanted to take some time out and look at our salary cap situation. Understanding the salary cap can give us fans a more realistic idea about how much we can spend and who we can go after. I think it also gives us a greater appreciation for Jerry Reese and the rest of the front office financial wizards that can twist and manipulate the dollar like the best of them.
I did a post just like this for last year. It's here if you'd like to check it out: Salary Cap Game 2011
As a quick recap of how I did from last year...well, not too shabby. I projected that the Giants, before addressing their free agents, would have a salary of $117,000,000. After all was said and done, they ended up with a cap number that year (including prorated bonuses) to about 117,500,000 by restructuring contracts and such. No doubt they will be able to do the same this year, but that is way too hard to project.
I also projected that they would spend about $6,000,000 is signing new free agents. They did spend approximately $6,200,000 on new free agents, so basically I'm awesome.
In any case, lets get to what we all care about: this offseason. Unfortunately, Giants fans, it will not be a pretty one.
THE SALARY CAP AND OUR SITUATION
According to this site the salary cap for the new year is going to be anywhere between $121-125 million dollars. Last year's cap was $123,000,000, and the cap almost never goes down. Therefore let's project the 2012-2013 cap number to be an even $124,000,000. Not too bad, right? After all, our cap hit last year was $117,500,000. It's a little tight, sure, but we can make do! Not so fast.
Remember to make cap room this past offseason, Jerry "restructured" a few contracts for Baas? Yeah, that's cause he knew we'd be in cap hell the next year. Some dudes are gettin' PAID this year. Our salary cap this year is: $124,736,000. Cripes, we have a boatload of free agents and we're starting off in the red already. Hey, at least we aren't the Dallas Cowboys, who start off with $129,000,000...or worse, the Pittsburgh Steelers who start off with almost $150,000,000. Forget about them signing their own free agents, nevermind getting any new ones.
Okay, so lets look at salaries and cap hits. I got all my numbers from this site.
From this cap hit site, it states that our total cap hit is close to $117,500,000. I'm not sure who to believe, but as my Pops says, "You can only be the best if you prepare for the worst." It'd be a lot easier to use the $117 million figure because we'd start off under the cap, but considering that Jerry Reese just barely fit into the cap last year, I'd say our figure is closer to the $125,000,000, so we should prepare for the worst case scenario.
THE MOCK DRAFT
I decided to do a mock draft because the players you draft determine who you keep and who you do away with. Of course, in your version of the Jerry Reese Game, you could draft somebody else, and that'd of course influence who we cut and who we keep. I kept my mock in true Jerry Reese BPA-style. I based my picks off two separate posts analyzing Reese's draft style: the first being a post I wrote last year which you can find here and also a post written by the great, if sometimes mysterious, poster ct17 which you can find here.
1) Dwayne Allen, TE Clemson. Prototypical height/weight. Very good strength and I would guess above average speed. What sets him apart is that he's a strong blocker AND pass catcher. Started as an in-line blocker, but Clemson decided to make him a bigger part of the offense. He is a polished route runner, and has probably the best body control (that is, catching the ball at its apex, boxing out defenders and fighting for the ball). His combine should determine whether he'd be BPA based on his speed drills, but I'd have no problems taking him in the first. We have a strong ACC scouting presence (see our players from BC and UNC), and Clemson is right in that wheelhouse. He fits my criteria of being a skill position player and coming from a big program, and fits mine and ct17's criteria for having the size/speed/character triad that the Giants look for in the first.
2) Bobby Massie, OT Mississippi. If Massie were available at pick #64, he would be strong value. He's a big guy, 6'6 325 lbs, and is strictly a RT at the NFL level. He's got decent footwork, has a little bit of a problem with his bend...can be a bit too upright at times, but that's coachable, especially with the OL coach that we have. I like his pass protection skills a little more than his run blocking, but with his frame, he has all the potential in the world, especially in a power blocking scheme like ours.
3) Brandon Taylor, FS LSU. I think this guy is very highly underrated. It would certainly be nice if we picked him up in the 3rd round. I have him rated as my 2nd best safety in the draft, right behind Mark Barron. I can see a couple guys like Harrison Smith and George Iloka going ahead of him though. He's got good height, 6'0, but could stand to bulk up a little bit at 200 lbs. He's a ballhawk and reminds me of, well, Antrel Rolle. Got underrated speed, and while he isn't a highlight reel hitter, he can track down the ball well. You may remember him in the first LSU-Alabama game where he had the ridiculous INT in the redzone.
4) Bernard Pierce, RB Temple. Another underrated player in my eyes, Pierce is another player with a good height/weight/speed combination at 6'0, 220 lbs and as a former track star could run a 4.5. He's strictly a power back that can play the role of the downhill, gritty inside-the-numbers explosive type back. He is a willing and able pass blocker, and has strong vision and awareness. He'll go somewhat late simply because of the depth at the RB pool, with Trent Richardson, Lamar Miller, David Wilson, Doug Martin, Chris Polk, LaMichael James, and Isaiah Pead all probably going before him.
5) Donte Paige-Moss, DE UNC. Before this season, he was a top 15 pick. He had a terrible year, demoted to 2nd string at some points. So why take him? A couple of reasons. Like I said before, we have a strong scouting presence in the ACC. We will have done our homework. He's also an athlete. Physically gifted. He's somewhat undersized at 6'4 260 lbs, but not terribly so for a RDE. His problem was his motor. He had an extraordinary first step two years ago, but seemingly lost it last year. I attribute it to a motor problem. Finally, and probably the most important attribute....he's a goddamned pass rusher. If we draft him, we should be convinced that he's motivated. He'll learn from the best, Osi and Kiwi as the primary RDEs, with Tuck and JPP at LDE. He'll contribute on STs as well. There was a similar problem with another pass rusher a couple years ago, talented but had a terrible motor. His name was Carlos Dunlap. Yeah, I'd say it worked out for the Bengals.
5) (Compensatory) Greg Childs, WR Arkansas. All about upside here. He's got a good height/weight/speed at 6'4 215 4.5. He had two really good years before tearing his ACL in 2010. Never the same, he was in and out of the lineup for the Razorbacks with injury, and only had 20 some odd catches. At one point, not very long ago, he was on the watch list for the Biletnikoff awards, and if his ACL is fully healed, he might still have some of that magic. He'd at least contribute on ST, and would be a real redzone target if Ramses doesn't pan out.
6) George Bryan, TE NC State. Solid blocker, decent pass catcher. 6'5 265. Reminds me of Ballard a little bit to be honest. Expected to run close to 4.85-4.9, so OK speed. Should contribute on ST and as a blocking TE.
7) Cliff Harris, CB Oregon. Talented, but got kicked off the team. Major, major red flags. Might scare teams off. Could go anywhere from the 3rd round to undrafted based on how teams weight potential versus character. Giants pick up a steal here, but its probably not realistic that he falls to us. It's okay though, I'm allowed to dream a little bit.
I know what you're thinking....NO LBzez! I'm quite happy with the group that we have already. More on that later.
DRAFT PICK SALARY CAP HIT
Based on the new CBA, it showed me that the first round pick got a signing bonus, but the rest of the team had about $375,000 in salary each. Based on what we have, I think it's safe to say 2 of our 8 draft picks here probably don't make the roster and go to the practice squad (thinking Cliff Harris and Greg Childs). Adding in Dwayne Allen's $1,000,000 cap hit for his signing bonus, the salary cap hit we can estimate for our new Giants would be approximately: $3,250,000.
That now makes, as of right now, our salary cap close to $127,986,000.
Okay, so our situation isn't look great, but isn't as terrible as we once thought. We have about $4,000,000 to cut to break even. After that, we can start addressing our own free agents. Using the very helpful site that I linked to above, we have our 2012 cap hits (bonuses included, and rounded because I hate math):
Antrel Rolle - $9,100,000
Chris Canty - $7,700,000
Brandon Jacobs - $6,870,000
Osi Umenyiora - $4,617,857
David Diehl - $3,825,000
Ramses Barden - $1,500,000
Clint Sintim - $1,125,000
Danny Ware - $1,005,000
Travis Beckum - $720,000
Spencer Paysinger - $465,000
Jim Cordle - $465,000
Mark Herzlich - $465,000
Greg Jones - $465,000
Those are all the players that I think are under consideration for getting cut. Out of these, with the addition of Bernard Pierce in my mock draft, the easiest cut to make would be Brandon Jacobs. I think a close to $7,000,000 cap hit for a change of pace RB that wasn't terribly effective is beyond ridiculous. Doesn't make any fiscal sense. I think Clint Sintim unfortunately is also another player that is probably gone. 2 ACL surgeries in 2 years does not bode well for a LB. We also have multiple candidates at the LB position, so I think he's gone as well. Travis Beckum, we can count out for now because he'll probably end up on IR with the addition of Dwayne Allen and the inclusion of George Bryan to go along with Bear Pascoe. I think we end up putting Ballard on PUP, meanwhile. So we don't count Beckum's cap hit.
I think with the emergence of Jacquian Williams, I think that Paysinger is also a goner. We are stacked at WILL with Boley and Williams. Herzlich can play all 3 spots, so I think he stays. I also think Greg Jones stays because I think he can play MIKE and SAM. Danny Ware (or D.J Ware, whatever) stick around. He's highly underrated as a 3rd down back and as a pass catcher. Ahmad is injury prone as well, and our history shows us keep at least 4-5 backs. Ramses doesn't have a terrible cap hit, and could prove useful, so he stays.
Now we come to the big boys: Antrel Rolle, Chris Canty, and David Diehl. Let me be the first to say that I think Canty stays. He's got a big cap number, no doubt, but I don't think we retain Rocky Bernard and Jimmy Kennedy. We retain Linval Joseph and an unproven Marvin Austin, so 3 DTs is a must. Antrel Rolle is a close second-to-last in terms of performance versus value, just behind Brandon Jacobs. I still believe that he can be an impact player, and I don't think that Tyler Sash is there yet. Tom Coughlin also hates playing rookies, so I think Rolle is gone after next year, not next year. David Diehl is also difficult because of the relative youth of our OL. Coughlin almost always redshirts OL, so that's a no-go for Massie, and I don't think Coughlin will give Brewer the starting RT job. Diehl stays as well, unfortunately.
Think Osi right now is a great value for his performance. We will probably listen to trade offers, but based on his value as a 3rd round compensatory pick in the future (most likely), I don't think we trade him for anything lower than a very early 2nd round pick. That probably doesn't happen so we keep that vicious rotation. Based on our cap situation, I don't think we extend him this year if we do plan on giving him an extension. So he remains the same here.
Therefore, a quick recap has us cutting Brandon Jacobs, Clint Sintim, Spencer Paysinger and putting Beckum on IR. That saves us $9,180,000. That brings our salary cap to $118,806,000. Finally, some breathing room!
Here is ProFootballFocus's Free Agent Tracker which I used as my guide to who was available.
I think everyone wants to bring back Terrell Thomas. From what I've been hearing from Twitter, it will be a contract similar to Mathias Kiwanuka's. A short-term deal, wait-and-see deal. Probably 2 years. I'd guesstimate a fair deal to be 2 years/$4,500,000. Giants LOVE to backload contracts, so this is what I'll do.
Year 1: $1,250,000
Year 2: $3,250,000
I also think everyone wants to bring back Jonathon Goff. He'll also get the same sort of deal as Thomas. I'd wager a fair deal for him would be 2 years/$3,500,000
Year 1: $1,000,000
Year 2: $2,500,000
Steve Weatherford will also obviously be back. He made $800K last year, but I'm guessing he wants a raise. Probably put him down for something like this: 4 years/$7,250,000
Year 1: $1,100,000
Won't bother going into the rest of the contract details for this one.
Jake Ballard is a restricted free agent going on PUP, so unless I'm mistaken, we don't have to worry about signing him till later.
I'd bring back Chase Blackburn, Dave Tollefson, Bear Pascoe, Devin Thomas, and Justin Tryon along with some other depth (players like Derrick Martin, Domenik Hixon). I don't anticipate any of these players asking for above $800,000 and some of them are minimum-wage guys. That comes out to approximately be $3,800,000
Unfortunately, I don't see Deon Grant, Rocky Bernard, Kareem McKenzie, Mario Manningham, and Aaron Ross back. Too expensive. The free agency market is very, very heavy at WR. I don't think we're going to be shoppers for Mario Manningham, Vincent Jackson, Wes Welker, Desean Jackson, Marques Colston, etc.
There aren't very many good tackles available. One did intrigue me, Demetrius Bell. If he took close to $3,500,000 a year (he wouldn't), we could cut David Diehl and get a massive upgrade. I hear he's looking for a long term deal though, and that wouldn't make sense if we spent a 4th round pick last year and a 2nd round pick (like I did in my mock) to give someone $7 million over a number of years. I also found no real cheap upgrades to Antrel Rolle either, and while it is extremely expensive, I believe the year after next, if we draft someone like Brandon Taylor or with Tyler Sash, we'll have someone ready within our organization to step up next to Kenny Phillips, and we can get rid of Rolle. Same with Canty.
So no new free agents for us this year. Adding up what our own free agents would cost us would bring our cap to $125,956,000. The NFL gives teams provisions to extend their salary cap by $2,000,000 if needed to extend their OWN free agents, which is what we did, so our realistic salary cap was $126,000,000 because of that clause. Therefore, we snuck right in there! I'm sure Jerry Reese can free up at least another $2-3 million by restructuring contracts, but I'd rather not for this year to maintain flexibility to extend Osi and Cruz next year.
So there you have it folks! We were successfully able to bring back Terrell Thomas, Jonathon Goff, and Steve Weatherford. We lost Manningham, Jacobs and McKenzie, but were able to keep the nucleus of the Super Bowl winning team together. We drafted talented, smart, athletic players that will surely contribute this year and the future.
Your turn! What do you think of the way I played the Jerry Reese game? What would you differently? Any other FA ideas?