Give New York Giants rookie GM Joe Schoen some credit. He appears to have thus far made a lot out of a little in NFL free agency despite the Giants being in a precarious salary cap situation.
This is a what a “very calculated” approach aimed at trying to be competitive in 2022 while doing what’s best for the long-term future of the franchise looks like.
Schoen cut tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith, running back Devontae Booker and punter Riley Dixon, saving the Giants about $12.5 million against the cap.
The new GM, rather than cut veterans Sterling Shepard and Blake Martinez, got each to accept steep pay cuts on incentive-laden deals that saved the Giants roughly another $12 million against the cap.
Together, that’s about $25 million in savings against the cap. That got the Giants below the $208.2 million cap, but not by much. It’s still not the $40 million Schoen said he wants to trim, and truthfully needs to trim.
What has he done with the money? He added the following players:
QB Tyrod Taylor
OL Mark Glowinski
OL Jon Feliciano
OL Matt Gono
TE Ricky Seals-Jones
WR Robert Foster
That is three competent players who would start on the offensive line if there was a game to play this Sunday. A competent veteran tight end who immediately ascends to No. 1 on the team’s depth chart. A quality backup quarterback who could give them representative play should the Giants need to turn to him this year or next. A wide receiver who had his best NFL season playing for Brian Daboll in Buffalo.
To make those moves with little wiggle room, Schoen has taken full advantage of the NFL’s top 51 rule. That rule establishes that from the start of the league season in March until the regular season begins in September, only the 51 most expensive contracts count against the salary cap.
Thus, each time the Giants sign a player, one player on their 90-man roster drops below the 51-man cutoff. Defensive tackle Devery Hamilton ($711,500K cap hit), running back Antonio Williams ($710K), wide receiver Travis Toivonen ($708,500K), tight end Rysen John ($707,500K) and wide receiver Austin Proehl ($707,500K) have thus far dropped below the threshold.
He still has the James Bradberry card to play, which could be a cap savings of $12.1-$13.5 million based on whether moving Bradberry — which he almost certainly still has to do — becomes a pre-June 1 or post-June 1 transaction.
To Schoen’s credit, he is holding on to Bradberry and trying to get something — anything — in return before having to cut him.
Schoen also could save $7.2 million by trading Saquon Barkley, though it doesn’t seem that is a road the Giants are headed down. Wide receiver Darius Slayton ($2.54M cap savings), defensive back Julian Love ($2.54M cap savings) and center Nick Gates ($2.125M cap savings) are other players who could be in jeopardy.
Let’s look at the depth chart after the first wave of signings by the Giants. Free agent signings are in bold.
Quarterback: Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor, Davis Webb, Brian Lewerke
Running back: Saquon Barkley, Gary Brightwell, Antonio Williams
Wide receiver: Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, Darius Slayton, Collin Johnson, Robert Foster, C.J. Board, Alex Bachman, David Sills, Travis Toivonen, Austin Proehl
Tight end: Ricky Seals-Jones, Chris Myarick, Jake Hausmann, Rysen John
Offensive line: Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Ben Bredeson, Jon Feliciano, Mark Glowinski, Matt Gono, Nick Gates, Matt Peart, Wes Martin, Devery Hamilton
A few thoughts
I don’t know about you, but I feel as though the Giants would have a chance to have competent — there’s that word again — play from their offensive line if this is the group they had to use.
Defensive line: Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, Raymond Johnson III, David Moa, Niko Lalos
Edge: Azeez Ojulari, Quincy Roche, Elerson Smith, Cam Brown, Trent Harris, Oshane Ximines, Omari Cobb
Linebacker: Blake Martinez, Tae Crowder, Carter Coughlin, T.J. Brunson, Justin Hilliard
Cornerback: James Bradberry, Adoree’ Jackson, Darnay Holmes, Rodarius Williams, Aaron Robinson, Jarren Williams
Safety: Xavier McKinney, Logan Ryan, Julian Love
A few thoughts
As of now, the Giants have yet to go outside their organization to add any defensive players. Interesting. Also probably the right strategy to this point given their glaring holes on offense.
Placekicker: Graham Gano
Punter: Jamie Gillan
Long-snapper: Casey Kreiter