I’m late to the party on this, but I wanted to weigh in on why it was significant news for the New York Giants on Thursday when it was reported that linebacker J.T. Thomas III had accepted a pay cut.
Ever since the offseason began, the question of when the Giants would cut ties with the veteran linebacker seems to have been hanging in the air. The Giants weren’t going to cut him while he remained unable to pass a physical after last season’s surgery to repair a torn ACL — if they had they would have ended up paying him an injury settlement. It seemed possible they would wait until he was off PUP, as he now is, before letting him go.
Now, with a reported cut in his base salary from $2.975 to $775K for the 2017 season, the odds that Thomas will remain on the Giants’ 53-man roster have gone up significantly. If that is, he can get on the field and show that his surgically-repaired knee can take an NFL pounding.
The Giants are starting slowly with Thomas, saying they will work him individually for the time being and that he is unlikely to play Monday night against the Cleveland Browns. He will, however, have to get some preseason game action before the Giants hand him a roster spot.
Coach Ben McAdoo said this week that Thomas “absolutely” has a chance to make the team.
“He’s got a chance to build himself up, play some meaningful games as we go. There’s a pretty good chance he won’t play this next ballgame, but he’ll have a chance to play here shortly,” McAdoo said. “That’s the whole point of training camp is right now,guys are fighting for roles. There are a few players that have some roles obviously, but he’s one of the guys that’s going to get out there and have a chance to fight for a role.”
Truth is, while Thomas has never been more than an adequate player and the original three-year, $10 million deal was an overpay, the Giants could use a linebacker with his skill set and experience.
Let’s consider Keenan Robinson a pseudo-starter, since he plays in all of the Giants’ nickel and dime packages. That means that on their current roster, the only truly experienced reserve linebacker the Giants have is Mark Herzlich — and his roster spot is tenuous. Between the stinger that is keeping him off the field and the play of young linebackers Calvin Munson, Curtis Grant and Deontae Skinner, Herzlich could end up on the outside looking in.
Thomas can play the weak side, backing up Jonathan Casillas. Remember, he was originally signed to start there. He can also play the middle if needed. Thomas is also an “alpha” personality, which means he would have no trouble stepping into a signal-calling role if needed.
It is exciting to think about adding a young player like Munson to the roster. Thomas’s versatility and experience, though, could help him stick around. Especially since the price is now a lot more palatable.