While you have been focused on the on-field developments from New York Giants training camp, the team’s salary cap has taken a back seat.
Until now, that is. I’ve had a chance to take a look at the cap situation and have a few thoughts about where things stand and where they might be headed in the coming weeks and months.
How much space do they have?
The NFLPA public cap report shows that the Giants currently have $5,197,272 in available space for the upcoming season. That figure is less than the $8 million general manager Dave Gettleman mentioned as being the low end of the target he hoped to carry into the regular season.
The Giants’ current total for the rest of this year is actually below that of the league average available cap space ($17,064,273). But as I’ve noted previously, the reason for the Giants low number is all the dead money they’ve had to eat after reshaping the roster.
According to Over the Cap, the Giants are up to $33,763,232 in dead money, which represents approximately 17.1 percent of their 2019 adjusted cap figure (adjusted being their carryover and credits from 2018 plus the league allocated cap set for all 32 teams).
While that percentage seems high, it’s a decrease from last year, when 24.7 percent of the Giants cap space ($43,913,062) was dead money.
Keep in mind, though, that these numbers reflect the Top 51 highest cap figures. The Top 51 will remain in effect until the 53-man rosters and practice squads are established in a few weeks.
At that time, the figure will be adjusted to reflect cuts and credits, e.g., receiver Golden Tate’s suspension will get the Giants a four-week credit on his base salary.
Where is the best and worst value on the team?
Before I address the best and worst values on the team, let me define my criteria.
When I think of value, I’m not necessarily looking at quantity, as in the fewer players the Giants have at a position, the better the dollar value.
I’m instead looking at a few factors including the total amount of the cap devoted to a position, and the potential return on investment.
The best value is the defensive line, which comes in with a league-low $12.2 million total. That total is a result of most of the players on that unit being on their rookie deals.
Unlike the worst value, which I’ll get to in a minute, this is a group the team can use right away.
Taking this a step further, fans were up in arms when the Giants traded away Damon Harrison last year. While Harrison remains one of the best run stoppers in the game, the Giants have added Dexter Lawrence, a player compatible in size to Harrison.
The difference is that unlike Harrison, Lawrence has the potential to be an every-down player. His versatility makes him an exceptional value at just a $2,408,734 cap hit for this year.
The worst value right now is quarterback, and it’s not even close. Per Spotrac, the Giants have $29.7 million tied up in that position, which is the sixth-highest figure in the league.
Granted, it’s a necessary evil because they added a top-10 draft pick (Daniel Jones, $4,666,192 cap hit) to a position where they already have the eighth-highest paid quarterback in 2019 (Eli Manning, $23.2 million cap hit).
What makes this a poor value is that a team can only play one quarterback at a time. That means that unless they plan on using Jones this year in a Taysom Hill type of role, that’s additional money they have to eat while the young man gets up to speed.
What is their most deceiving value?
That would be the offensive line, which right now has a $34.9 million cap hit total, 18th highest in the league. This is a deceiving value because of the uncertainty at backup tackle where other than rookie George Asafo-Adjei, the Giants don’t have a single draft pick competing for that all-important swing role.
And based on what I’ve seen from the backup tackles so far, that’s a big concern. I’m not sure if Gettleman sees it that way as well, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if the Giants add another backup tackle.
How does next year look?
Criticize Gettleman all you want, but he and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams have done a masterful job fixing this team’s salary cap.
Using Over the Cap’s estimate of a $200 million salary cap league-wide next year, the Giants right now are estimated to have $55,332,745 in functional space.
They have to set aside money for their rookie class, but that amount won’t be known until we see where they draft. Even then, other than maybe the first four rounds, the rest of the class barely makes a blip on the cap picture.
The key for the Giants is to keep their dead money low. Having made some initial projections on a 53-ma roster, I think this will be the case. I also took a look at implications should they end up, for example, trading Janoris Jenkins mid-year. The good news is that move if it’s made, won’t cause more than a ripple in their dead money pool.
As far as their upcoming free agents, there are a few situations to keep an eye on.
The first is Eli Manning. While conventional wisdom would suggest that the Giants move on from Manning after this year, the team has left the door open for a possible 17th season by their long-time franchise quarterback.
If it looks like that’s the direction they might be headed, there are things that the Giants can do to keep a potential contract extension for Manning reasonable. (I’ll explore that later in the year if it looks like that’s the direction they’re heading.)
Edge rusher Markus Golden is another player who could be in line for a new deal, but that will depend on his play as well as the development of Oshane Ximines. If Ximines comes on as hoped, the Giants could be able to get away with adding another rookie to round out the trio of solid pass rushers every team needs.
Kicker Aldrick Rosas is the other free agent I’d keep an eye on. Rosas will be a restricted free agent after this year.
While you can argue kickers are a dime a dozen, my guess is if he has another Pro Bowl year, the Giants are going to tender him at the highest amount.
If that’s the case, the Giants might be better off signing Rosas to a multi-year deal to avoid carrying a glaring one-year cap figure at that position.
The only other position worth watching is at right tackle. Projected starter Mike Remmers signed a one-year deal for 2019, presumably because the Giants hoped that Asafo-Adjei might develop this year and be ready to step into that role down the line.