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Giants salary cap: What other cards does GM Joe Schoen have to play?

There is still work to be done, and here are many of the possible ways Schoen can do it

NFL Combine
Joe Schoen
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

With all of the moves they have made, the New York Giants should now be under the $208.2 million salary cap once all of the accounting is done.

Over The Cap still lists the Giants as $3.72 million over the cap. The pay cuts accepted by wide receiver Sterling Shepard and linebacker Blake Martinez have not yet shown up in the OTC database.

Estimates — and that is what they are — show that the pay cuts taken by Martinez and Shepard should save the Giants $10-10.5 million against the cap. If Newsday’s Tom Rock is right, the savings could be a couple million more.

So, best guess — and again it’s an educated guess — is that those moves put the Giants somewhere around $7 million under the cap. Maybe just a shade more.

Cutting Kyle Rudolph saved the Giants $5 million with $2.4 million in dead cap. Cutting Devontae Booker saved $2.125 million with $1 million in dead cap. Cutting Riley Dixon saved $2.8 million with only $320K in dead money. Waiving Kaden Smith saved the Giants $2.54 million against the cap.

So, add all of that up and GM Joe Schoen has trimmed somewhere around $22-25 million from the cap at this point. That’s good, and it makes the Giants complaint with league rules. Schoen, though, has work to do to reach his stated goal of $40 million in cap cuts.

The Giants are going to need more than $12 million in cap space to sign their rookies. They are going to need more money than they currently if they hope to do much of anything in free agency. They are going to need money to operate during the season, to sign replacements for injured players, etc.

How are they going to get there?

The biggest card the Giants have yet to play involves veteran cornerback James Bradberry. The 29-year-old carries a $21.863 million cap hit in the final year of his three-year, $43.5 million cap hit. There is a 2023 void year that carries a $1.363 million cap hit.

Bradberry is 29, healthy, and has no reason to take Martinez-Shepard style pay cut. An extension pushes money into the future, which Schoen has said he doesn’t want to do, and probably wouldn’t provide the Giants the cap relief they need now.

If the Giants cut or trade Bradberry now, they save $12.136 million against the cap while carrying a $9.727 dead money hit. It is true that if they make Bradberry a post-June 1 cut they save more ($13.5 million) and carry less dead money ($8.363 million).

The difficulty the Giants have in a post-June 1 cut or trade of Bradberry, or even holding on to Bradberry and trading him during the draft, is that they need the savings now that getting out from under his contract would provide.

Even with the work they have done, they will be hamstrung once free agency begins unless they do more.

There are other moves they can make to get a bit of relief without delving into re-structuring contracts, something Schoen has said would be a “last resort” to get the cap in order.

  • Trade Saquon Barkley. I’m not going through the whole ‘should they/shouldn’t they’ trade Barkley debate again. I’ll just say doing so would give them $7.217 in cap relief with no dead money.
  • Cut Nick Gates. It seems unlikely Gates is going to play this season after his horrific 2021 leg injury. He carries a $3.004 million cap hit, and the Giants can save $2.125 million by cutting him. Perhaps they would bring him back on a veteran minimum contract, which would lessen the savings but be the classy thing to do.
  • Cut or trade Darius Slayton. Despite having a sub-par 2021 season, Slayton qualified for proven performance escalators that pushed his 2022 cap hit to $2.598 million. The Giants could save $2.54 million with just $58,721 in dead money.
  • Cut Oshane Ximines. The 2019 third-round pick fell out of favor with the previous coaching staff. The Giants could save $995K against the cap with $209,195 in dead money.
  • Cut or trade Julian Love. Like Slayton, Love qualified for proven performance escalators that pushed his cap hit to $2.732 million. The Giants could save $2.54 million with just $192,715 in dead money by moving on.