I've been wanting to do this post for quite some time now. I really enjoyed Jesse's post on the subject, so I figured I'd do my take. I do realize that this post will essentially be irrelevant after free agency starts, but it's still fun to do.
Note:All facts and figures in terms of salary were taken from www.overthecap.com. Highly suggested site, tons of great information.
So let's get started:
Salary Cap Status
We'll do an extremely basic (and well-rounded) analysis of the NYG salary cap situation to give us a rough estimate of what we can work with.
With the recent influx of moves that the Giants have made the current salary figure for them is: $113,500,000. Due to cap carry-over, we can spend up to $124,000,000. That leaves us with about $10,500,000 in free money. However, there's a bit more that we can do. The NYG can designate 2 players as "after June 1st cuts" in which their dead money can transfer over to 2014. This will likely happen, and pick any two of the cuts that the Giants make and we'll see around $4 million in cap space will be cleared. Add that plus other minor restructures and cuts, and the NYG will have enough room to sign their rookies. So we're not going to worry about that in our calculations.
So let's get to the moves.
Restricted Free Agent Tenders
Andre Brown - $1,250,000 Original (4th) Round Tender
I was debating between giving Brown an original round tender which is approximately $1.25 million, or a 2nd round tender which is $2.0 million. In the end, I went with an original round tender because I feel like there is not only a saturated free agent market for RBs, but this draft has plenty of them as well. Add to that the fact that Brown has a significant injury history, and teams will not likely want to give up a mid-round pick in a deep and talented draft class.
Stevie Brown - $2,000,000 2nd Round Tender
This was probably the no-brainer of the group. With Kenny Phillips likely on the way out (spoilers!), our newest playmaking safety needs to be retained. We cannot tag him with an original round tender, because he was a 7th round pick by a different team. Therefore, 2nd round it is.
Victor Cruz - $3,000,000 1st Round Tender
It had to be done. I do not think the Giants and Cruz will be able to make a deal this offseason, so we have to tag him. He gets a 1st round tender which is roundabouts $3 million, and he's a NY Giant (most likely) for the upcoming year.
So with those moves, we can see that our robust $9,000,000 cap space has now shrunk to $4,250,000 that we can play around with. It's clear that moves need to be made.
Clearing Up Space
The first, and most obvious, move that I can make will be to cut David Diehl. Cutting him saves us $4,825,000. That's a lot of money we can use. He's ineffective at any spot, and I think that its about time we see what we have in James Brewer at the RT spot and Brandon Mosley as a backup OG. We also have Jim Cordle that can come in and play OG if necessary.
Therefore, our cap space now looks a bit healthier at $9,075,000. Take a deep breath, we're not done yet.
Next, a small move that I am somewhat adamant about doing, and God willing, if I were a GM, I'd have no qualms about doing is pushing Justin Tuck to take a paycut. A small one, mind you. He's making $4,500,000 in salary. I'd ask him to take $500,000 off. Why? Because Corey Webster took one for poor play, and I'd push for any space available. I don't think it's likely, but for these purposes, I'm doing it.
That pushes our cap space up slightly to $9,575,000.
Finally, my last move that I think I want to make is something that will piss a lot of people off. Heck, I think it's going to piss me off as well. It's a restructure of Eli Manning's contract. It would involve taking his base salary for this year ($13 million) and converting about $7,000,000 into a signing bonus. That would then be spread over the life of his contract. I do not think a deal will get done with Manning in terms of a contract extension this year, but I do believe that he'll do something of the sort next year. If he's locked up for the next five years, this re-structure essentially will only add about $1.7 million per year. And also, let's face it, we're married to Eli Manning anyway.
So doing all of that, we get my final cap number of $16,575,000. Not bad, right?
Alright, so now that we've got our final number set up, what are we going to do with all that cash money?
The first thing I do, and what actually seems likely in real life, is to re-sign Kevin Boothe. Some people believe he's really only a JAG (just a guy) that's been a mediocre player for us and a journeyman. I am not one of those people. I thought he had an above average season last year. I also believe he's valuable to keep around because:
A) He's only 29, which is relatively young for an offensive lineman.
B) I do not believe he has significant injury issues.
C) He's the definition of versatility. He can play LG, OC, RG and the drop off in play is not dramatic.
That being said, I do not think team in the free agent market will give him top level starter money. I am anticipating a deal around what Nate Livings got from the Cowboys. You overpay a little bit, but I think its worth it for a starting OG in his prime.
I propose a 4 year deal worth $15,200,000 with $4,750,000 guaranteed ($2,000,000 signing bonus). That comes out to around $3,800,000 average annual salary per year and a little over 30% of his contract guaranteed, which is around league average for guards. I think its a fair deal and would make him the 23rd highest paid OG in the NFL as of 2013. Considering there are 64 starting guards in the NFL, that would put him right around the top 1/3 of guards in the NFL and considering inflation when dealing with free agency, that should be enough to get it done. I'd structure it like this:
Year 1: 2.35 million (+500k prorated signing bonus)
Year 2: 3.50 million (+500k prorated signing bonus)
Year 3: 4.25 million (+500k prorated signing bonus)
Year 4: 5.10 million (+500k prorated signing bonus)
Obviously, it will be backloaded and he probably gets cut during year 4 of this deal, when he becomes 33. This year's cap hit is what we're really interested in, and that would be $2,850,000.
We now have $13,725,000 to use.
Next, a main focus for me is to lock up Hakeem Nicks with a long term extension. I'd rip up the current deal that he has and push to get him done before he hits the free agency market where he will blow up his contract demands.
The reason for extending Nicks is this:
A) His stock is by far at its lowest, coming off a 53 reception, 692 yard, 3 TD performance in 2012.
B) He has health concerns, but he still played in 11 games this year. He probably would have done better this year had his injury been managed properly. This was admitted by both Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin. He only missed 3 games in 2010 and only 1 game in 2011.
C) When healthy, I believe he is the most talented WR on the NY Giants roster. Better talent than Victor Cruz. He consistently wins vs top CBs and has some of the best body control and route running that I've seen. He's a freak in terms of some of the catches he makes. You can argue that Cruz is more talented, sure, but this is my opinion. His performance in the 2011 playoffs was topped only by future HOF Larry Fitzgerald.
With that in mind, I'm going to give Hakeem Nicks a top 10 WR salary as of 2013. I think he'd be amenable given his awful season. He will get paid more than Roddy White and slightly below Miles Austin and Santonio Holmes. I'm willing to give him a 5 year deal worth $44,500,000 with $15,000,000 guaranteed ($5 million signing bonus). That pays him $8,900,000 per year and makes him the 10th highest paid (or higher if Miles Austin takes a pay cut) WR in the entire league. Given there are 64 WRs in the league, I think this is fair. On a per year basis, I'd probably measure out:
Year 1: $6.6 million (+1 million in prorated signing bonus)
Year 2: $8.0 million (+1 million in prorated signing bonus)
Year 3: $9.75 million (+1 million in prorated signing bonus)
Year 4: $9.75 million (+1 million in prorated signing bonus)
Year 5: $10.4 million (+1 million in prorated signing bonus)
Therefore, once again, we see a backloaded contract, but I made it so he's not completely monstrous in his last few years. I anticipate keeping him here all 5 years and I think he'll only get better. He takes a fair chunk out of our salary cap each year, but for a top end WR, it is certainly below "market value." His cap hit for this year is $7.6 million.
We are now at $6,125,000 in cap space.
Next, what I'd like to do with the limited funds that we have is sign a former enemy. I'd like to sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He is coming off quite a bad year, but he's got gobs of upside. He is young, tall, and fast. He's an outside corner that provides insurance for Corey Webster, and locking him up at a nice, multi-year deal allows him to stay and develop once Webster is gone in 2014. I think he's a significant risk, but he at the right price, worth it.
I would propose signing him to a 3 year deal worth $17,500,000 dollars with $6,000,000 guaranteed ($3 million signing bonus). Does it seem like a lot? I suppose, but the average deal is $5,833,333 per year. It would make him the 21st highest paid CB on the market. The guaranteed money is around 34% of the total which is right on par with most contracts. As a starting CB (which I'm hoping for), that's pretty good value to find on the open market. I would probably structure this a bit differently than the other two, in that most of guaranteed money, I'd throw in the beginning, so he's pretty easily cut if things don't work out.
Year 1: $3.1 million (+1 million in prorated signing bonus)
Year 2: $ 6.5 million (+1 million in prorated signing bonus)
Year 3: $ 7.9 million (+1 million in prorated signing bonus)
His cap hit for this upcoming season is $4.1 million
That leaves us now with a miniscule $2,025,000 to play with.
The next player that I will sign is something that we do almost every offseason. The old, wily veteran on the OL for some insurance. This year, there's a glut of very good tackles out on the market that will push the price down for lots of the mediocre guys. So without further ado, I am prepared to sign free agent right tackle Khalif Barnes. Barnes is a 30 year old 6'5 325 lbs right tackle for the Oakland Raiders. I would sign him to a 1 year deal worth $980,000 (veteran's minimum).
He would usually be a bit more expensive than this, but he is coming off season ending groin surgery. He was likely on his way out with the organization anyway and a 1 year "prove it" deal seems likely.
This move leaves us with $1,045,000 left. I would use up this money on a 1 year deal to WR Domenik Hixon. He's more valuable to us than anybody else, and I feel like he would really help lock up the top five WR spots with Nicks, Cruz, Randle, and Jernigan. He can also return punts. He didn't get the veteran's minimum because I'm a nice person.
We are now out of money, but as I said, rough estimates. New money can always be opened up. Restructuring Antrel Rolle is an option that I decided not to take, though it certainly is possible to do to clear up some cap space.
I did not re-sign several key free agents:
A) Kenny Phillips. I'm one of his biggest fans, but we are saturated at S with Rolle, Hill, and Brown. We cannot afford what Phillips is asking for and I think he's a big risk with his injury history. Troublesome for sure, but its something I felt I had to do.
B) Martellus Bennett. The top 15 TEs in 2013 make $5,000,000 or more. I'm sure Bennett wants that much. Given the importance of the TE in our system, that's too much for my tastes. On top of that, we've shown that Eli Manning can get production from that spot with lots of players. I'm throwing in my chips with Adrien Robinson and telling Tom Coughlin to start him. I also hear the Giants love Larry Donnell, another big target. Someone will emerge, I remain unconcerned.
C) Chase Blackburn. I don't feel that he gives us much in the MIKE department. If he gets an offer somewhere else, great for him. If not, he'll likely be available during the season if he's needed.
Alright, that's enough of that. Time for my favorite part, the draft...
What I'm going to do is mock the 1st round up to the NYG selection, so you guys know who is available.
- Kansas City (2-14) Luke Joeckel, OT TAMU
- Jacksonville (2-14) Ezekiel Ansah, DE BYU
- Oakland (4-12) Star Lotulelei, DT Utah
- Philadelphia (4-12) Dion Jordan, OLB ORE
- Detroit (4-12) Dee Milliner, CB ALA
- Cleveland (5-11) Jarvis Jones, OLB UGA
- Arizona (5-11) Eric Fisher, OT Central Mich
- Buffalo (6-10) Geno Smith, QB WVU
- New York Jets (6-10) Barkevious Mingo, OLB LSU
- Tennessee (6-10) Shariff Floyd, DT FLOR
- San Diego (7-9) Lane Johnson, OT OKLA
- Miami (7-9) Bjoern Werner, DE FSU
- Tampa Bay (7-9) Xavier Rhodes, CB FSU
- Carolina (7-9)Sheldon Richardson, DT MIZZ
- New Orleans (7-9) Desmond Trufant, CB WASH
- St. Louis (7-8-1) Chance Warmack, OG ALA
- Pittsburgh (8-8) DaMontre Moore, DE TAMU
- Dallas (8-8)Johnathan Cooper, OG UNC
This leaves us in probably the worst case scenario. There are several targets still left that I could choose from, like D.J Fluker or Tyler Eifert....I kid! But anyways, with the 19th pick, the New York Giants select:
Round 1: Alex Okafor, DE Texas
Okafor is not a name commonly heard with the Giants. He is also not a name heard too often in the 1st round. However, I think teams are trying to stay hush-hush about him. He's a monster. He has prototype size that the Giants like in their defensive ends: 6'4 265 lbs with 33 7/8" arms.
He's had terrific production as a 3 year starter at Texas. Had 7 sacks, 14 TFL, and 58 tackles as a junior in 2011, and had an awesome 12.5 sacks, 18 TFL, 4 FF, and 68 tackles this past year in 2012. His sacks were not coverage sacks or anything of that ilk. Check out this nifty graphic (h/t SecondRoundStats):
They define a "cover sack" as a sack garnered over 5 seconds. An "average sack" is 3.5 to 5 seconds. A speed sack is, yup, you guessed it, less than 3.5 seconds. The average time to sack is in bold. As you can see, all of Okafor's sacks this season were under 5 seconds and he had the fastest time on average to sack the QB. One would expect Barkevious Mingo to be fast since he's a speed demon, but Okafor beats him out despite outweighing him by over 20 lbs.
Now check these two charts:
Let's take a look at the first one. This was "SecondRoundStats" way to determine quality of offensive line. They used a formula that looked at how many sacks the opposing OL allowed over the course of the season as a whole, as well as Sagarin rankings, which are part of what goes into ranking the teams. The higher the number, the better. Okafor's number of 57.90 was second only to Ansah, so by this metric, he faced the second toughest OL out of this group of passrushers. The chart also looks at how many of the sacks came when the player was blocked or was unblocked. The vast majority of Okafor's sacks came when he was blocked. These two metrics essentially show that the production that Okafor had were not "gimmes."
The second chart shows the different types of flavors of sacks these players engaged in. They give you a picture of what the rusher is: speed, power, or balanced. While its quite obvious that Jordan and Werner are speed rushers outside, Okafor comes in with an excellent balance of power and speed, as shown by the equality in sack production through an outside rush and bull-rush.
I will not embed tape or do film study of all these prospects, because tape is readily available through YouTube via various channels like JMPasq and AaronAloysius. But I will go over strengths and weaknesses of each player briefly.
As far as Okafor goes, he's got a tremendous bullrush. That's his calling card. He can drive through the offensive tackle and quickly and fluidly use an over arm club/rip move to disengage and close in on the QB. It's a fantastic move, and he's shown that he has upside to learn more. He's not an 'elite' athlete, but his power is freakish, which makes him a definite contender for the 19th overall pick. The speed and burst he adds is just a surplus, where he's got good bend and is flexible enough to get nice leverage on the offensive tackle with consistency. He's an excellent run defender right out of the box, and he's obviously got the chops to be a terrific pass rusher. I've been watching more and more of him lately, and I'm definitely intrigued.
At 6'4 265, he's already got NFL ready length, and the reason I selected him is because of the versatility he provides. He can play strong or weak side because of his balanced strength and speed. He's a very polished player, but don't mistake that for low ceiling. He can add weight if he needs to and can learn more pass rush moves to be a player worthy of a top draft pick. DE does not seem like such a need at this point, but I'm looking to the future where Tuck is gone after this season, and we aren't sure of what we have in Mathias Kiwanuka. I don't know that Adewale Ojomo and Adrian Tracy are the answer to our problems. Our pass rush AND run defense off the edge was disgusting and Okafor will provide help with both. His versatility as an RDE and LDE is something to covet and allows us to play JPP and Okafor wherever we want. It'd allow Kiwanuka to move back to SAM for a few snaps as well if we wanted to. All in all, this pick is more for 2014 than 2013, but don't be surprised if Okafor helps this year as well.
2nd Round: Bennie Logan, DT LSU
Sensing a direction here, fellas? Bennie Logan recently mentioned that he'd "love to play for the Giants." Well, Bennie, I'm more than happy to oblige. Logan will be another late riser, and as I was watching Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, Logan flashed.
I think our defensive tackles need quite a bit of help. We've got our 1 techniques in Linval Joseph and Shaun Rogers, both 320+ lbs rocks. Linval is capable of playing either the 1 or 3, but that's neither here nor there. We have two 3 techniques in Marvin Austin and Markus Kuhn. Obviously, there are questions from both of them. A big issue with the DL was the run defense, right? Yep. Looking at FootballOutsiders run defense metrics, most of the issues came from being unable to tackle players behind the line of scrimmage and when they were around 5 to 10 yards past the LOS. The latter is a LB problem (which I promise you, we will address soon), and the former is an issue that I've noticed as well: the lack of interior penetration.
Logan will fix that. He is more than capable of anchoring down and being a two-gap player at 6'3 310 lbs, but that's not his game. He can be that penetrating 3 technique that gets upfield and harasses the QB and destroys the running back in the backfield. Interior pressure is by far the biggest thing that can help the pass rush of the NY Giants. QBs HATE A-gap pressure, and last year, we didn't have it.
If we're going to run the Tampa-2, we are required to provide pressure on every single down, otherwise it doesn't work. And most of it is expected by a 4 man rush. Logan next to Anvil would fix that in a big way as part of a rotation with Austin and Rogers. Logan's biggest strength is his burst off the line and his flexible hips. He was the first one off the snap in that feared LSU front, and that will help in a big way. His pro comparison is Henry Melton in terms of skillset. He's got the upside to get there, too.
For the 3rd round, the NYG trade their 3rd round and 6th round picks to the San Francisco 49ers to receive San Francisco's 3rd round and 4th round.
3rd round (from 49ers): Zaviar Gooden, OLB Missouri
A lot of you may not have heard of Zaviar Gooden. This is Zaviar Gooden:
He is 6'1 235 lbs of pure, chiseled animal. He's an athletic freak by every definition:
40 yard dash? 4.47 official time with an insane 10 yard split of 1.53.
Bench press? 27 reps.
Broad Jump? 11'7. Yes, that's right. ELEVEN FEET, SEVEN INCHES.
3-cone time? 6.71. By comparison, only TWO CORNERBACKS got under 6.7.
So we know he can destroy the underwear olympics, that's fine. But can he actually play? The answer is yes. Yes, he can. If you watch him on tape, he moves as fast as these times show. He's a blur on the field and he goes 100 MPH on every damn play. That's a double edged sword, and a reason why I have him as a late 3rd round pick. His instincts aren't great.
They aren't terrible, but he sometimes will make the wrong read, and that ends up pushing him out of the play. His pass coverage is very, very good. He can definitely keep up with those athletic TEs, no problem. He can stack and shed versus smaller guys like TEs and FBs just fine, but he'll have trouble going up against offensive linemen. He's a sound tackler and pretty good in run defense. He's fluid when moving and zips around the field. Easy moving athlete. So what am I going to do with him?
Easy. Maximize his talent. Put him at WILL. Move Jacquian Williams over to SAM. Williams is around 245 lbs now, so he's got good size as a SAM and is a better blitzer than Gooden. Gooden is just as good as Jacquian in coverage and a more fluid athlete (hard to believe, but yes). I've long since been a proponent of sideline-to-sideline guys on BOTH ends at LB, to cover maximal area and really open up the playbook. Gooden would allow for that. The instincts aren't a huge concern to me. He's like JWill in that regard, and with time, they will come. He's raw with massive, massive upside.
4th Round: Jon Bostic, ILB Florida
Back-to-back LBs? Four straight selections on the front seven? Yes. Necessary. I've identified the front seven as not only a major issue, but THE major issue on the team, so I am doing my best to add an influx of talent. Having gotten rid of Chase Blackburn, we need an athletic, strong presence in the middle. Bostic is my guy there.
As far as the tape study of Bostic goes, he's a patient linebacker. He can sit back in zone and cover well. He's instinctual and knows his assignments. Short area quickness is good, and he's a fundamentally sound tackler. He reads and reacts well and doesn't take too many false steps. The problem with him is that he doesn't produce a lot of splash plays. He also isn't all that explosive, and he often times is a second late when coming in to make the tackle against a particularly speedy opponent.
That's okay by me, because in my scenario of drafting Gooden, Bostic is the perfect complement. We need a patient, fundamentally sound LB manning the middle that can sit back in zone and cover the middle of the field. He's 6'1 245 lbs and runs a 4.61. He's not slow by any means. He's flanked by two freaks that can go out run around like a bunch of crazed dogs behind an aggressive, attacking front.
Essentially what I'm trying to do is create an ideal Tampa-2 front seven, because its clear that Fewell is here to stay and he's not a fan of making too many changes. With a pass rushing force up front with JPP-Logan-Joseph-Okafor with a core of Gooden-Bostic-Williams, we have a fast, swarming defense that can play all three downs and be the perfect weapon against the read-option.
Round 4 (49ers): Sanders Commings, CB/S University of Georgia
Commings is a personal favorite of mine. He's an enforcer at 6'0 214 lbs. He's got very good long speed for his size - got a 4.41 40 yard dash. As you can imagine, he's a violent and physical player at that weight. He can jam well, and he's got an uncanny ability to peel away from coverage quickly and turn around and annihilate underneath WRs or RBs that have the ball. Perfect CB in run support. He's not bad in coverage as an outside corner.
The issues surrounding Commings include his inability to play in the slot. He's got poor short area burst, so that is definitely an issue. He is also not the most explosive guy out there, and needs time to build up speed. Finally, he's got some character concerns - namely a domestic charge - that may cause him to drop. He's a developmental player for 2014, but he can develop into a starting S or CB for us, I can definitely see the upside there. He's a Brandon Browner clone (minus about 4 inches).
Round 5: Reid Fragel, OT Ohio State University
Fragel is a monster. Literally, a monster. He's a 6'7.5, 310 lbs behemoth. He was a blocking tight end for OSU, but converted to tackle, and boy is he dripping with upside. Insane athleticism, his two best features are his fast and agile feet and his incredible burst off the line.
He's incredibly raw, naturally, as a former TE, but he's got all the tools to be a great pass protector. Very good run blocker too, given the fact that he's that tall, he gets low when he's pushing people off the LOS. He's a project, no doubt, but I feel like the Giants won't be able to resist if he's sitting there in round 5. Jason Peters was a former TE, and it worked out well for him. The Giants are taking a late round flier on him, and if it works out, we could be set at tackle for years to come.
Round 6 (Compensatory): Zac Stacy, RB Vanderbilt
I'm taking Stacy because the skillset he has is ideal for what we need him for. The name of the game is power. Just pure power. He's a mighty mouse at 5'8 216 lbs that can push the pile. He's a very effective blocker, and I've got no qualms about his ability to pass protect, which makes him an ideal 3rd down back in my eyes. He doesn't have the speed and quickness you like, which is what likely drops him this far, but he was productive at Vandy, and I like him for a limited role in this offense. I think it'd be one of the few times I'd go for a limited, polished role player instead of pure upside in the late rounds, but hey, there it is.
Round 7: Caleb Sturgis, K Florida
Caleb kicks with accuracy. He's got a booming leg. We need a kicker. Is that enough analysis?
I came into this simulation with one goal in mind, to upgrade the defense to get faster and younger and not at the expense of future years. I restructured Eli Manning and I put off a little bit of dead money to re-sign draft picks, but I think I gave nice, easily cuttable back-loaded contracts to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and to Kevin Boothe. I was able to get Hakeem Nicks at a responsible price for the next five years and didn't break the bank for really anybody.
With the draft, I set up the defensive line and linebacking corps with athletic players that specialize in attacking and swarming. They are the type that are needed in a Tampa-2 defense. All the LBs are 3 down players, which definitely will help our run defense. I'm tired of giving up so many yards on defense, so I did something about it.
In the secondary, we've got Prince Amukamara, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas, Stevie Brown, Antrel Rolle, and Will Hill in the fold. It's a lot of risk, but potentially quite a big reward.
We also need to put some trust in certain key spots, such as RT (James Brewer) and TE (Adrien Robinson), but again, I have faith in our scouting department and development program. Let our young players play.
In any case, that's how I'd do it this offseason. What are your thoughts?