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Recapping the Giants pre-free agency activity

A look at the salary cap and the decisions made and not made

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The pregame festivities ahead of the start of the 2018 league year are just about wrapping up and it’s been a rather odd and quiet couple of days for Dave Gettleman, the Giants new general manager who is tasked with the huge task of trying to fix the mess he inherited from Jerry Reese.

In case you were out furniture shopping or perhaps you’re not sure what the turn of events means moving forward, let’s bring you up to speed and try to clear up some questions.

How much cap space do they have?

Important! Important! (Did I say ‘important’?) Moving forward, cap space is going to be fluid and will depend on guys signed and how they affect the Top 51, which goes into effect at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.

According to Over the Cap, as of March 13, the Giants had an estimated $20,489,984 in cap space. It’s not clear, though, if that includes the RFA tenders or the Alec Ogletree trade (which technically doesn’t become official until 4 p.m. ET Wednesday).

Regardless of what the amount is listed, remember that about $9 million and some change has to be reserved for the draft class.

However, that’s what’s called a “soft” $9 million in that the full amount isn’t actually needed thanks to the Top 51 rule.

For example, if a draft pick has a $1 million cap hit, he’s likely going to push someone who had been in the Top 51 at a cap figure of $500,000 out. So the net difference is only $500,000,

Can they clear more cap space?

Of course! One move I fully expect them to make is to take Ogletree’s $7 million roster bonus that’s due on the fifth day off the new league year (March 19) and convert that into a signing bonus that can be prorated over the remaining four years of his contract. ($1.75 million per year).

If they do that, Ogletree’s $10 million cap number will drop to $4.75 million and he’ll still get his $10 million guaranteed, except this will come in the firm of a signing bonus instead of a roster bonus and his $3 million base salary.

While that does push the potential for dead money to accumulate in 2019 and 2020 where none currently exists, I have to believe that the Giants didn’t trade away previous draft resources to acquire Ogletree with the intention of having him stick around just for one season.

Why haven’t they cut Brandon Marshall or Dwayne Harris yet?

Both Marshall and Harris are presumably still rehabbing from their respective season-ending injuries, so there is some question as to whether either could pass a football physical right now (a football physical is much different than your ordinary, everyday physical.

Appendix K of the current NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) provides the standard minimal checklist used during a preseason physical, which you’ll see is a lot more in-depth than an every-day physical — and keep I mind teams reserve the right to add to this checklist as they see fit.

Ok, so you’re probably asking how is it that the Seahawks were able to waive Richard Sherman, who was rehabbing from a season-ending injury?

According to Article 45 of the CBS, “Injury Protection” gives a player inured in the previous season one season compensation for the next season, if he still can’t play due to the injury. That compensation is 50 percent of the salary he was due to earn, up to a maximum of $1.15 million for 2018 (the injury settlement).

If a player signs a contract with another team and passes a physical with that team, the player will not be entitled to the injury settlement since it’s presumed his new base salary will be higher than the $1.15 million max payout he was to have earned as part of the injury settlement.

Whereas Sherman likely knew he was going to sign with another team and pass its physical, the Giants likely don’t feel as confident about Harris and Marshall doing the same. So rather than risk getting hit with up to $2.3 million to trim Harris and Marshall from the books, they appear willing to wait, just as they did last year with linebacker J.T. Thomas, who was in a similar boat.

What about guys like John Jerry? Surely guys like that aren’t in the team’s 2018 plans?

There were many people who thought that John Jerry might be a cap casualty, yet he’s still on the roster, at least as of this writing on Tuesday night — oh and don’t call me Shirley.

Why? The first reason is that he might still be in the team’s plans. (Really!) Okay, not buying that? Then how about the possibility that Gettleman might be of a different philosophy than Reese?

Whereas Reese let guys who weren’t in the plans go early so they could get a head start on the market, in doing so, he also tipped his hand as to what holes he was aiming to fill.

So perhaps — and this is just a theory — Gettleman is going to do the opposite by hanging on to guys for as long as he can to not tip his hand into how he might be thinking regarding certain moves.

Yes, it’s likely a long shot as anyone with two eyes and a basic understanding of football can figure out where the Giants lack. But sometimes it’s better to keep your opponents guessing right down to the wire.

Ok, so can you put my mind at ease? Why Mark Herzlich? Why Jonathan Stewart? What the heck is Gettleman doing?

Gettleman inherited a major mess from Jerry Reese roster wise in more ways than one. Not only is it up to him to restore a balance where the team o longer has to rely so heavily on dropping mega bucks on free agents to take the place of draft picks that didn’t work out,

Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur need to clean out a locker room that last year became toxic.

Let’s be real. The leadership lacked last year. You had far too many guys claim they were trying to lead by example, but based on the chemistry that team showed, the leading-by-example model didn’t work. How could guys expect it to?

In fact, I wouldn’t be stunned if the Giants add more guys like that at the cornerback spot (to replace Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) and especially in the receivers room where that kind of leadership has been missing for years.

No, Herzlich and Stewart aren’t sexy signings. But those guys are leaders. Both are guys who are comfortable enough I their own skin to lead a film session with younger teammates or provide sage advice from their longevity in the NFL.

You need guys like that in the locker room, and if you can get at least one guy at every position group to take on that role, you’ll see a much different culture that will likely be far more productive.