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How the Giants’ free agency contracts affect the team’s salary cap

Let’s get you caught up on the new contracts and some other key financial notes that pertain to the Giants’ 2018 cap space

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

Back in December, Kevin Abrams, then the New York Giants interim general manager who also retained his primary duties as the team’s salary cap manager, told reporters that the 2018 cap picture was healthy enough to not present any significant road blocks to the Giants in their quest to improve their roster.

Considering there was no guarantee he’d become the general manager fully in charge of the cap assets, Abrams yet again did a wonderful job of anticipating how things might flow.

Under new general manager Dave Gettleman, the Giants managed to score one big signing, left tackle Nate Solder, while adding reasonably priced pieces such as outside linebacker Kareem Martin, offensive guard Patrick Omameh and running back Jonathan Stewart.

The Giants also signed lower priced (yet still valuable) players like defensive backs Teddy Williams, who signed a minimum qualifying deal (meaning it only counts for $720,000 against the cap since it meets certain criteria) and Curtis Riley.

Both of their contract details have not been confirmed by my source as of this writing, but preliminary reports indicate that neither deal is a cap buster.

The Giants also retained some of their own free agents — linebacker Mark Herzlich, guard John Greco, restricted free agent center Brett Jones (second-round tender) and exclusive rights free agents offensive lineman Jon Halapio (whose tender doesn’t even qualify for the Top 51) and defensive tackle Robert Thomas (tendered at a right of first refusal level).

Gettleman and Abrams made all this work by cutting only two players, punter Brad Wing ($1.025 million savings) and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ($6.4 million savings) to start the 2018 free agency period.

That’s some nifty cap management there by the Giants’ brass. While the moves made (and not made) look good on paper right now, we’ll obviously have to wait until December to see if it was enough to turn around the misfortunes of a 3-13 team.

In the mean time, let’s look at what else the Giants have done regarding the cap.

Roster Bonuses and Guaranteed Money

As expected, the Giants converted linebacker Alec Ogletree’s $7 million roster bonus into a signing bonus.

This simple conversion means that Ogletree will still get the $10 million guaranteed in 2018 that his original deal called for, but for accounting purposes, his $7 million roster bonus will be prorated over four years (the remaining life in his contract) at a rate of $1.75 million per year.

So instead of counting for $10 million against the 2018 cap, Ogletree’s number drops to $4.75 million — a $5.25 million savings.

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Another player who received his roster bonus is quarterback Eli Manning, who was due a $5 million payout on the fifth day of the league year (March 18).

I had thought the Giants might convert that money into a signing bonus and tack on a dummy year in 2020 to alleviate the cap hit, but only as a last resort.

It turns out they didn’t need to touch Manning’s contract. That is a good thing as while both Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur have opined that Manning has “years” left in this game, it would be stunning if Manning plays beyond the 2019 season, when his current deal runs out.

Manning will count for $22.2 million against the 2018 cap, the highest figure on the Giants but the 10th highest cap figure among quarterbacks in 2018, per Over the Cap.

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Lastly, defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon saw clauses in their respective contracts ensure they have guaranteed money due in 2018.

Vernon, who has a $17 million cap figure this year, will have $12 million of his $12.75 million base salary guaranteed. That’s the last of the guaranteed money owed him on his current deal. Vernon, by the way, is currently the third-highest cap figure on the team this year.

Pierre-Paul is also still collecting guaranteed money . Of his $11.25 million base salary, $7.75 million is now fully guaranteed for this year. (His guaranteed money will dry up in 2019 when $7.5 million of his $13.25 million base salary is guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2019 league year.)

Pierre-Paul’s 2018 cap figure is at $17.5 million, currently the second highest cap figure on the team.

OL Patrick Omameh

NFL: AFC Championship-Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Omameh

Year Base Salary Prorated Signing Bonus Workout Bonus Cap Hit
Year Base Salary Prorated Signing Bonus Workout Bonus Cap Hit
2018 $900,000 $1,500,000 $100,000 $2,500,000
2019 $4,650,000 $1,500,000 $100,000 $6,250,000
2020 $4,150,000 $1,500,000 $100,000 $5,750,000

Omameh’s deal carries $5.5 million in total guarantees. That number includes the $4.5 million signing bonus and his first-year base salary.

For those who don’t understand why the Giants signed an offensive guard whom Andrew Norwell replaced in Jacksonville, based on his contract, Omameh accomplishes two things.

First, he costs a lot less than Justin Pugh, whose new deal with the Cardinals averages out to $9 million per year.

More importantly, when you look at Omameh’s contract, it’s structured to be a one-year deal which suggests that the Giants might not be done adding to their “hog molly” collection for the long-term.

OLB Kareem Martin

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OLB Kareem Martin

Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Roster Bonus Workout Cap
Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Roster Bonus Workout Cap
2018 $2,250,000 $1,000,000 $500,000 $100,000 $3,850,000
2019 $3,250,000 $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $100,000 $5,350,000
2020 $4,200,000 $1,000,000 $500,000 $100,000 $5,800,000

Martin has $7.25 million in guaranteed money that includes a $3 million signing bonus, his entire 2018 base salary, and $1.5 million of is 2019 base salary. His roster bonuses in each year are due on the third day of the league year.

In addition, he can earn up to $1.2 million through playing time and sacks incentives in each year, with a base salary escalator in years 2019 and 2020 if he plays more snaps than initially projected.

From a cap perspective, Martin’s deal screams “starter money,” though it will be interesting to see how many snaps he does end up taking during his Giants tenure.

Where do the Giants stand cap wise?

Depending on which source you believe, the Giants, as of late Sunday, March 18, have $20,057,272 (per the NFLPA Public cap report) or $5,225,150 (per Over the Cap).

I believe Over the Cap’s estimate to be more accurate as the NFLPA’s doesn’t appear to have the latest signings — Nate Solder, Martin, Omameh, etc. — reflected just yet.

Anyway, the point of this section is that as of right now, the Giants don’t have a lot of space to do much more in free agency. They’ll likely look to add a few players from the bargain bin at this point.

What they won’t be able to do is extend receiver Odell Beckham Jr. or safety Landon Collins at this moment.

Earlier this year I thought the Giants might look to get Collins done so that next year if Beckham wasn’t signed long-term, they could use the franchise tag on him, but that doesn’t appear to be the in the cards right now.

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Instead, the Giants will need to find more money to cover their rookie class — per Over the Cap, the Giants’ five picks this year will cost them $9,021,442, though that is a “soft” number (meaning that because of the Top 51 rule being in place, usually draft picks from rounds 5-7 don’t count against the Top 51’s highest cap figures on the team.)

Come the spring, that’s when we could see movement on receivers Dwayne Harris and Brandon Marshall if one or both are not in the team’s plans.

Although no one has confirmed either player’s status, it would not be surprising if, right now, neither man is able to pass a football physical.

If that were indeed the case, the Giants would have to reach an injury settlement with each man to release them, a settlement that could max out at $1.5 million per player.

If that were to come to fruition, instead of saving $5.156 million on Marshall, the Giants’ potential cap savings would be $3,656,230 while Harris, who would otherwise count for a $2.45 million savings, would count for just a $950,000 savings.

The Giants probably figure that because they don’t need the money right now, they can afford to wait to give Harris and Marshall more time to rehab their respective injuries. Remember, the draft classes need to be signed by the start of training camp, so there is still plenty of time for that to happen.