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2022 NFL free agency frenzy - Can the Giants get in on the trading craze?

Yet another big-name player appears on the verge of being traded

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The New York Giants have made moves over the course of the 2022 NFL free agency period. They’ve made a number of low-key signings to take some of the pressure off of themselves to address pressing needs in the 2022 NFL Draft.

But as far as much of the rest of the League is concerned, the Giants have been pikers, mere spectators going to grab nachos to much on while they watch the real show.

We’ve seen some massive contracts get handed out this off-season, but the main attraction has been the absolutely insane trade market. A number of teams have put some of the biggest names in the NFL up on the auction block and the landscape of the league is definitely shifting.

Today’s trade of Tyreek Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Miami Dolphins is just the latest in a string of blockbusters that have defined the start of the 2022 league year.

Let’s go over the biggest ones:

  • Russell Wilson (and a fourth round pick)

- Traded from the Seattle Seahawks to Denver Broncos

- Seattle gets: Two first round picks, two second round picks, a fifth round pick, QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant, DT Shelby Harris

  • Devante Adams

- Traded from Green Bay Packers to the Las Vegas Raiders

- Green Bay gets: 2022 1st round pick, 2022 2nd round pick

  • Amari Cooper

- From the Dallas Cowboys to the Cleveland Browns

- Dallas gets: 2022 5th round pick

- Teams swap 2022 6th round picks

  • DeShaun Watson

- From the Houston Texans to the Browns

- Houston gets: 2022 1st and 4th round picks, 2023 3rd round pick, 2024 fourth round pick

  • Carson Wentz

- Traded from the Indianapolis Colts to the Washington Commanders

- Indianapolis gets: 2022 3rd round pick, 2023 3rd round pick (could convert to a 2nd round pick.

  • Matt Ryan

- Traded from the Atlanta Falcons to the Indianapolis Colts

- Falcons get: 2022 3rd round pick

  • Tyreek Hill

- A trade between the Chiefs and Dolphins materialized remarkably quickly, with reports of Hill requesting a trade quickly blowing up into news of suitors, and then the trade itself. The reported compensation is a first round pick (plus more), and Hill getting a 4-year, $120 million extension.

  • Khailil Mack

- Traded from the Chicago Bears to the Los Angeles Chargers

- The Bears get: 2022 2nd round pick, 2023 6th round pick.

  • Baker Mayfield

- This trade hasn’t happened yet (as of this writing), but we know it’s coming. Baker had already expressed a desire to be traded once the Browns started pursuing Watson. With Watson now in the fold

Despite all of that action, the Giants are noticeable absent. We’ve long expected the Giants to trade CB James Bradberry, RB Saquon Barkley, or both. The Giants are currently about $3 million under the salary cap (this has yet to factor in some of their recent signings like Matt Brieda and Jihad Ward), but while the team is technically cap compliant, they still need to create space.

The Giants’ rookie class is expected to require roughly $12.5 million to sign, they’ll need roughly $2 million to account for the contracts that don’t appear in the current “Top-51” accounting, and they’ll need a “rainy day” fund to pay for injury replacements during the season. The nature of the Injured Reserve has changed over the last two years (for the better, in my humble opinion), but teams till need to pay for replacements. Last year, 23 of 32 teams had placed at least 10 players on the injured reserve by the end of November. That’s not an insignificant chunk of cash.

So while the Giants are currently under the salary cap, they are going to need to shed quite a bit more money to be functional this year — Potentially another $20 million or more to pay for the rookies, unaccounted for contracts, and injury replacements.

And that need to free up about a further $20 million in cap space is what’s driving the talk of trading Bradberry and Barkley.

So, can the Giants get in on the trade market while it’s still hot?

They probably can, though it might mean managing expectations for compensation. The problem for the Giants is that their commodities aren’t as valuable as the ones netting the big deals.

Bradberry is a proven cornerback (two valuable things), but he will be 29 years old by the start of the season and carries a $21.8 million cap hit. His age and cap number will likely drive the potential compensation down, and could make striking an acceptable deal difficult in the short term.

Barkley is a young and relatively inexpensive (at least compared to some of the other players being traded). However, he plays one of the least valuable positions on the field will need a contract extension after 2022, and has dealt with injuries in each of the last three seasons. Barkely was once one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL, but it’s been a while since he has been a consistent threat. Again, all of that is likely driving down Barkley’s price and the Giants’ potential suitors.

As it stands now, the question might not be whether Barkley or Bradberry (or any other potential trade pieces) are more valuable to the Giants than their potential return. But rather, can the Giants afford to hold onto these players? Can Joe Schoen strike a mutually agreeable deal to move one (or both) of these players?

We’ll find out eventually. Maybe the Giants are waiting in the weeds to make their own blockbuster trades.