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Giants trading Olivier Vernon to Cleveland Browns for OG Kevin Zeitler

Giants swap one big contract for another

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Chicago Bears v New York Giants Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The New York Giants are trading defensive end Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns. The return is offensive guard Kevin Zeitler.

The Giants and Browns also traded mid-round picks, the Giants sending Cleveland pick No. 132, a fourth-rounder, in exchange for pick No. 155, a fifth-rounder.

The Giants confirmed the trade just minutes after the initial reports on Twitter.

Just Thursday, there had been reports that the Giants were “leaning towards keeping” Vernon. There had also been national reports that the Browns were looking to move Zeitler, who turned 30 today.

The trade, basically, amounts to a swap of salaries.

Vernon was entering the fourth year of a five-year, $85 million contract. He carries a cap hit of $19.5 million in 2019.

Zeitler is in the third year of a five-year, $60 million contract he signed with the Browns. He carries what appears to be a $12.4 million cap hit in 2019, per Over The Cap’s contract database.

Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap reports that once all the contract permutations are factored in, the Giants end up saving about $1.5 million.

Fitzgerald explained the cap ramifications this way:

“Zeitler’s salary and cap will be $10M. All the prorated stays with the Browns. they move Vernons $19.5M cap off the books but add on $8M of dead money. So $19.5-10-8= $1.5M.”

Zeitler is a seven-year veteran who has started 103 of the 104 NFL games he has played in, all at right guard. His acquisition leaves the status of free agent guard Jamon Brown, who played eight games for the Giants after being claimed on waivers last season, unclear.

Brown does have limited right tackle experience and could stick with the Giants as a swing man if he can’t find any starting offers. Big Blue View will continue trying to find out more as to whether or not the Giants have any plans to retain Brown.

With Vernon gone, the Giants will likely be looking in free agency and the draft for help on the edge. The Giants also moved on from veteran edge rusher Connor Barwin this offseason.

The draft is filled with talented edge players. On the free agent market, a player like Trey Flowers of the New England Patriots could be in play. There have also been reports that the Kansas City Chiefs would be willing to trade Dee Ford after using the franchise tag on him.


What grade would you give the Giants trade of Olivier Vernon for Kevin Zeitler?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    (2210 votes)
  • 41%
    (2324 votes)
  • 13%
    (781 votes)
  • 3%
    (202 votes)
  • 2%
    (128 votes)
5645 votes total Vote Now

The majority of Browns fans seem happy with the trade.

Trade reactions, more

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell believes the Giants did well in this trade, getting a “major upgrade” on the offensive line. He also writes:

“They had to trade down one round in the middle of the draft to get this done, which is a slight demerit, but they added a great player at a position of need by giving up a player at a position where there will be options this offseason. It’s easier to make sense of their side on this one.”

Art Stapleton agrees with my thinking outlined above, writing that “Zeitler will represent a significant upgrade at guard and step in immediately, likely on the right side.”

Jeff Risdon of Browns Wire writes that “Zeitler was a quality right guard, but his play didn’t really justify his salary cap hit of $12.4 million for the next two seasons.”

Reaction to the deal in the @BigBlueView mention on Twitter actually seem to be positive, though not unanimous.

Ralph Vacchiano of SNY likes the move for the Giants:

Here is a breakdown from Pro Football Focus:

Giants 2019 draft choices

Here is what the Giants draft looks like following Friday’s Vernon-Zeitler trade. With four fifth-round picks, the guess is that GM Dave Gettleman will try to maneuver his way into the third round.

Round 1: 6th
Round 2: 5th (37th overall)
Round 4: 6th (108)
Round 5: 4th (142) -via SF/DET (Damon Harrison trade)
Round 5: 5th (143)
Round 5: 17th (155) -via CLE (Vernon trade)
Round 5: 33rd (171) -compensatory pick
Round 6: 7th (180)
Round 7: 18th (232) -via MIN (Brett Jones trade)
Round 7: 31st (245) -via LAR (Alec Ogletree trade)