Is the idea New York Giants could be serious bidders for free-agent star Ndamukong Suh a fact, or is just a Twitter-fueled fantasy? With the start of the 2015 NFL Free Agency signing period just a few days away the free agency rumor mill at at full throttle. Let's examine the Suh to the Giants question.
The view here is that Suh to the Giants is pure in your wildest dreams fantasy. It is great for the Twitter rumor mill. It is great for web sites like this one. It gives us great stuff to talk about, and simply dropping the 'Ndamukong Suh to the team of your choice' rumor/headline drives oodles of page views, which we all need to survive. It also is amost certainly not going to happen.
If you were to ask Giants general manager Jerry Reese about Suh he would leave the door open. He always does. To everything. Whether it makes sense or not. Reese would say something like "we keep all of our options open" or "we investigate everything." And, consequently, the rumor mill would fire up with speculation that the Giants were preparing a bid. Let's look a littler deeper.
What Suh Wants
We don't know for sure, but you can look Suh to try to become the highest-paid defensive tackle in football, if not the highest-paid defensive lineman, period. The current highest-paid defensive tackle is Gerald McCoy, working on a seven-year, $95.2 million deal with the Tampa Bay Bucccaneers, $14.757 million of which is guaranteed. Defensive end J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans tops all defensive linemen with a six-year, $100 million deal that includes $20.876 million guaranteed.
Jason LaCanfora of CBS reported earlier this week that Suh could be seeking as much as $17 million per year with an astounding $60 million or more guaranteed.
What The Giants Have
Spotrac estimates the Giants with $13.186 million in salary cap space heading into 2015. Some of that money, of course, will need to be allotted to signing rookies the team drafts. The Giants are 23rd in the league in cap space. Three teams have more than $50 million in cap room, and a total of 12 have $30 million or more. Quite obviously, the Giants can't currently come anywhere close to matching what those teams could offer.
Could The Giants Get There?
Of course they could. The question is whether doing so would be smart business. Here is at least some of what it would take to get the Giants at least close to $30 million in cap space.
Get Jason Pierre-Paul to sign a long-term deal. The Giants recently put the franchise tag on JPP at a cost of $14.813 million against the 2015 cap. Let's suppose the Giants got him to accept a deal similar to the four-year, $57 million deal Robert Quinn has with the St. Louis Rams, and that the deal cost the Giants about $11 million vs. the cap.
Extend Eli Manning. You could add a few years to Manning's deal, which expires after the 2015 season. Let's say the Giants added three years and lowered his cap number from $19.75 million to about $16 million.
Extend Will Beatty. The left tackle has three years remaining on a five-year, $37.5 million deal. His 2015 cap hit is $8.05 million. For the sake of argument, add a couple of years and drop the cap figure to $6 million.
Cut Jon Beason and Jameel McClain. You could save roughly $6 million in cap space by dumping both veteran linebackers.
Without working out exact contract details, those moves would save the Giants roughly $15 million against the cap, putting them slightly above $28 million. Would that be enough to put them in the Suh sweepstakes? Would they be able to get anything else done? Are any of those moves even advisable?
We have already talked about how risky a long-term deal for the enigmatic Pierre-Paul looks right now. There is easily an argument to be made that the Giants should let Manning play out the final year of his deal. That argument is something like this -- if the Giants have another bad year and Tom Coughlin is ousted, do you want to hand a new coach a 35-year-old QB who hasn't made the playoffs in four years, or do you want the opportunity to start over? Do you want to tie yourself to Beatty for even longer? Who plays middle linebacker, or offers leadership, if Beason and McClain are gone? Along with Antrel Rolle?
What if the Giants do all of those things to entice Suh, and fail? What have they done to themselves then? Most likely, the answer to that is that they have made a mess out of their roster, and cap situation, for years to come and gotten nothing to show for it.
How It Could Work
Former sports agent and current salary cap analyst Joe Corry pointed out that there is one contract model under which the Giants could make a competitive offer to Suh. That would be the model they used to sign Manning to his current six-year, $97.5 million deal. That deal was backloaded. The first three seasons cost the Giants only $35.6 million against the salary cap. The final three are costing $61 million against the cap.
If Suh, as some reports have suggested, would really like to play in New York, perhaps he would agree to a deal like this to put himself closer to Madison Avenue. It would be a tough sell, though, with so many teams still able to offer him more up front than the Giants could.
I know you should never say never, but there just seem to be too many obstacles, too many teams with more money to spend, too many moves the Giants would have to make but would prefer not to, for Suh to the Giants to be realistic.
One other thing to consider. Yes, Suh is a difference-maker. The Giants, though, are not one player away from being a Super Bowl contender. They have a lot of holes to fill and positions to upgrade.
Going all in on one player is not going to 'fix' the Giants. It just doesn't seem like the smart, or realistic, play for the Giants right now.