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Giants restructure guard Kevin Zeitler’s contract

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New York clears $5 million in cap space ahead of the draft

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants, in need of some cap space ahead of this weekend’s NFL draft, turned to newly acquired guard Kevin Zeitler, who had a $10 million cap hit scheduled for this year, for some help.

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Giants converted $7.5 million of Zeitler’s $10 million base salary into a prorated signing bonus. The move lowers Zeitler’s 2019 base salary to $2.5 million with a $2.5 million of his now converted base pushing his total 2019 cap hit to $5 million.

Overall, the move clears $5 million off the 2019 Giants cap. New York, who had recently dipped to under $9 million in space following a flurry of moves, now has $14.555 million in cap space, per the NFLPA web site. That should be plenty of money to get their upcoming draft class signed and to add a post-draft veteran free agent or two, if they so choose.

When a player is traded to another team, his old team absorbs whatever money is left as part of the contract’s original prorated signing bonus in the form of dead money. That means that the Browns absorbed the remaining $12 million of Zeitler’s signing bonus after trading him to the Giants in exchange for edge rusher Olivier Vernon last month.

By restructuring Zeitler’s contract, the Giants have added $2.5 million per year in 2020 and 2021, making Zeitler’s new cap numbers $12.5 million in 2020 (from $10 million) and $14.5 million in 2021 (from $12 million) but those bumps are modest.

Per Over the Cap, the Giants 2019 rookie draft salary pool is estimated at $13.798 million. However, with the Top 51 cap rule currently in place through the end of the preseason, as rookies are signed, they will likely knock some of the lower priced veterans on the back end of the Top 51 out of the equation.

For example, if a rookie has a $1 million cap hit, he would bump a player who has a $600,000 cap hit, meaning the next change in the cap space is only $400,000.

According to NFL salary cap rules, all signing bonuses given to draft picks count against the cap in their prorated form.