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How the New York Giants can benefit cap wise if they trade down in the first round

Here’s how the Giants could potentially help themselves from a cap perspective if they trade down in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft.

NFL: New York Giants-GM Dave Gettleman Press Conference Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If your dream has always been to see the New York Giants trade down in the first round of the NFL draft, 2018 could be the year your dream comes true.

Ok, so it is early and the new Giants brass of general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur still have a lot of work to do regarding evaluating the prospects in the draft.

And yes, let’s be realistic: it’s not every year the Giants are going to find themselves with the second overall pick in the draft which means they should come away with a franchise type of player, be it a quarterback (which, depending on whom you believe, is a position they desperately need) or another position.

But just as there are benefits for the Giants to stay put and take a quarterback with the No. 2 pick, there are also reasons to go in another direction — such as trading down a few spots.

Understanding the Rookie Salary Pool

First, let’s get a general idea regarding the rookie salary pool and where that stand for this year.

The current CBA allows each NFL team a maximum amount of dollars to spend on the total value of their annual draft picks. The value for each team is determined based on where the player ends up being drafted, hence why you often hear that the rookie pool has been slotted.

Although the formula for calculating the rookie cap is secret, Over the Cap, as it does every year, put together an estimate for each NFL team which also includes projected compensatory picks. The Giants’ total estimated rookie pool allocation is $10,648,353 — money that will need to be set aside in the team’s salary cap space.

That total, by the way, is fluid, meaning that if the Giants move up or down in any round of the draft and either subtract or add additional picks, the cap number is adjusted based on whom they acquire and give away.

Here is the detailed projected breakdown of where the Giants currently stand.

New York Giants 2018 Rookie Cap Pool (Estimated)

Round Overall 1st Year Cap Notes
Round Overall 1st Year Cap Notes
1 2 $5,694,864
2 34 $1,358,571
3 66 $743,620
4 104 $663,662
4 137 $593,591 Projected Compensatory Pick
5 141 $560,725
6 179 $527,282
7 220 $506,038 Traded to Pittsburgh for Ross Cockrell
Figures via Over the Cap

The Giants traded their seventh-round pick to the Steelers last year in exchange for cornerback Ross Cockrell.

The Steelers, assuming they keep that pick, will actually be on the hook for paying whoever the 220th overall pick is. With this pick’s salary deleted from the equation, the Giants’ adjusted projected rookie cap space is $10,142,315.

But there is a catch that works in favor of the Giants. For every rookie contract signed, that means it’s going to replace one of the top earners in the team’s Top 51 salary list.

Per this table at OTC, the Top 51 cut-off is currently $555,000 (Adam Bisnowaty), which means that as Picks 1-4 sign their rookie deals, guys on the bottom end of the Top-51 table are going to fall out of the list and not have their 2018 cap figures will not count against the cap space calculated under the Top 51 rule.

To put it more plainly, if a player has a $1 million cap figure upon signing his deal, his net hit against the cap is only $500,000 because he’s bumping a player who was set to count for $500,000 in the Top 51 out of the mix.

In adding up the first four picks (not counting the projected compensatory picks), the Giants rookies are projected to take up $8.46 million of cap space.

A case for trading the No. 2 pick

Let’s be clear about something. If the Giants are convinced without a doubt that there is a prospect at No. 2 who is going to have the same kind of impact as their last overall No. 2 draft pick did (some guy by the name of Lawrence Taylor, drafted second overall in 1981), then the question about keeping or trading the pick becomes moot.

Thus far, it’s too soon to say if the Giants have their eye on a prospect, be it a quarterback or otherwise, who has that kind of potential. Let’s assume, however, that they don’t and that the their target player is someone they think they can trade down a few spots for and still get.

If that is the case, the Giants should absolutely do it (assuming they don’t move out of the Top 10), and not think twice about it. Not only would trading down yield additional draft picks that would give Gettleman options should he want to move around or use the draft to fill some of the numerous holes on the roster, it would help optimize the Giants cap situation.

Let’s say for example the Giants somehow engineer a trade with the Jets, who hold the sixth overall pick and who have a couple of picks in the second round (No. 27 overall and No. 49 overall).

According to the draft value chart, the Giants could, in addition to the Jets’ first-round pick (sixth overall) potentially obtain one of their 2018 second-round picks, and a conditional third-round pick in 2019.

Were the Giants to get that extra second-round pick, that would give them four picks in the top 100.

From a cap perspective, the estimated difference in the 2018 cap figures between the second overall pick and the sixth overall pick is $1,334,243. If the Giants feel confident of getting the guy they want by dropping a few spots in the draft, that potential savings can now be reinvested in an extra top-100 pick.