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Big Blue View mailbag: Kenny Golladay, cap questions, more

The mail’s here!

Even being swamped with things to do during NFL combine week can’t stop the mail from needing to be answered. So, let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what we can do.

Chris Chianese asks: Ed, why release Golladay now as a pre June 1 cut (save $6.7M) and not as a post June cut(save 13.5)? More savings after June 1 and I believe they can designate 2 players as post June 1 early.

Ed says: Chris, the Giants have not yet made a determination as to whether Kenny Golladay will be designated a pre- or post-June 1 cut. Initially, it was reported as a pre-June 1 cut, but the Giants quickly clarified.

My guess is how that ultimately plays out will be determined by what happens with Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. Making Golladay a post-June 1 cut saves the Giants more money but that savings does not take effect until June. Making him a pre-June 1 cut saves less money, but the savings it does generate could be used when free agency opens on March 15. So, pros and cons to each.

Sal Ambrosino asks: I have a cap related question for you. With QB salaries exploding into the $50M neighborhood, and certain linemen and other positions on both sides of the ball at about half that, teams will be faced with spending approximately 25% to 50% of their cap space on fewer than 5 players on a 51 player cap roster. That doesn’t seem sustainable if you want to have a quality product in a sport that requires at least 30+ starters each game.

Yet, in my limited reading, i don’t see any discussion about the possibility of max salaries like in the NBA. Do you think that’s on the horizon for football?

Or, if that seems unlikely is there talk of moving the cap to a higher percentage of total NFL revenues?

Ed says: Sal, I’m not going to quibble with your math. But, no, there is no talk I am aware of regarding max salaries. Why would there be with the salary cap exploding? It went from $208.2 million in 2022 to $224.8 million for 2023. It is projected to rise to $256 million in 2024 and $282 million in 2025.

The NFL is making gobs of television money and streaming services are now pouring billions more into the sport. The league is basically printing money. Players are making more, and getting more guaranteed money. Owners are making more. The NFLPA is not going to want to hear anything about maximum salaries. Why would they?

Terry Cassell asks: Will Bob Tucker ever be recognized as being NY Giants Hall of Fame? He was clutch and had great hands and played with poor teams.

Ed says: Terry, I honestly don’t know. I suspect, though, that if that were going to happen it would have happened already.

For those too young to remember Tucker, he played for the Giants during the Wilderness Years of 1970-1977. He is 10th on the franchise’s all-time receptions list with 327, and 12th in receiving yards with 4,376 — one spot behind Victor Cruz. Tucker was a pass-catching tight end before that was really a thing in the NFL.

Carl Wittenberg asks: If the Giants were to tag Saquon (unlikely) and he were to sit out the season rather than play under the tag (probably even more unlikely), would he still be counted against the 53-man roster and what would be the impact on the salary cap?

Ed says: Carl, if a player doesn’t sign the tag and sits out he would not be counted against the 53-man roster. How could he be? He isn’t signed. As for the cap implications, the cap hit takes effect as soon as the tag in used — whether signed or not.

Here is a quick explanation from cap analyst Joel Corry:

A franchise or transition tag counts against a team’s salary cap as soon as the designation is made. It doesn’t matter whether a player has signed his franchise or transition tender. Once signed, the franchise or transition tender becomes a fully guaranteed one-year contract.

Jeff Newman asks: Hey Ed, give us a bold prediction or hot take for an off-season Giants move - free agency, draft, etc. Something nobody’s talking about that will really surprise us.

Ed says: I don’t know how bold this is or how surprised anyone will be but here’s one thought. Joe Schoen trades UP from No. 25 to get the wide receiver he wants, probably making sure he gets in front of the perennially receiver-needy Baltimore Ravens at No. 22. Now, I don’t know who that receiver will be but Schoen has 11 picks and might not want to wait and “settle” for what’s left.

John Foti asks: Bill Parcells said that “potential means that you haven’t done anything yet”. He also believed that potential has a time limit. Which Giant players do you believe are reaching that time limit?

Ed says: John, we would have to talk about the young players on rookie contracts who have not yet done enough to justify being considered for second contracts.

From 2019, you might put Oshane Ximines in that category — although Ximines did some good things last season.

From 2020, you probably put Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux in that category. Neither has been what the Giants hoped.

From 2021, you can put Aaron Robinson and Elerson Smith in that category. Neither has been on the field enough to know what they can do.

David Kanter asks: We all hear the “there is a gap between us and Saquon. There is still a lot of of work to do.” lines. What exact work do the sides do on a daily basis to get the other to move? Are they presenting data? Trying to appeal emotionally? When they say there is a lot of work to do what work are they doing?

My money is they are just going to lunch and waiting it out until one sides get nervous enough to act.

Ed says: David, c’mon, now. I can’t explain how your job gets done. You can’t explain how mine gets done. I can’t tell you exactly what happens in these meetings. I’m not in them, and neither side is going to share.

That being said, I can tell you the two sides aren’t sitting in a room just staring at each other. They will exchange ideas, scenarios, dollar figures, contract structures — a range of things. Maybe there is some human or emotional appeal. I’m sure there is also an element of each side trying to gauge how much give there might be in the other side.

There have been agent/team meetings going on all week in Indianapolis. It’s an assembly line of meetings and conversation because it is one of the few times both sides are in the same place.

Christopher Keller asks: A quick simple question. Do you think the Giants would draft Stetson Bennett in the last round as a backup QB, hoping to get a Purdy like backup?

Ed says: Christopher, I have no idea what the Giants think of Bennett. Me? I want nothing to do with the guy. GM Joe Schoen knows he need a QB3 and said this week the team will address that. My guess is that will come from the draft rather than spending valuable free agent money on a guy who you hope will never play.

David Brenner asks: Why not slap the transition tag on DJ rather than pay more than his real market value? Is anyone going to pay substantially more than the Giants? I doubt it. And if he gets no offers, his value is reset significantly downward. Seems like a low risk/high reward move. And, they can always match, so fear of losing him is practically nil.

Ed says: David, people ask about the transition tag all the time. It would cost roughly $3M less than the franchise tag for Jones, and the Giants would have the right to match an offer.

There are a couple of problems.

Do you really want to risk alienating Jones over $3 million? If I’m the Giants, I don’t. Also, do you really want to let other teams set the price you will ultimately have to pay to keep Jones? That’s what you are essentially doing if you use the transition tag and then match an offer. That doesn’t make sense to me.

As for “real market value,” I’m going to echo Chris Simms here. The market value for a good starting quarterback, a mid-to above average one, is in the $30-$40 million range in today’s NFL. That’s the reality. That’s what it is. Get over it.

If you aren’t paying a quarterback that kind of money you either don’t have a good one, or you have a quarterback who is still on his rookie contract.

Robert Forgione asks: I have a question about the salary cap. I do understand some of it, but like others, I get lost in some of the terminology. Every year, the Saints are over the cap by 30-40 million. Then they “restructure” or turn salary into bonus money and “voila” they are under the cap. It seems some teams really know how to “work’ the cap and others. not so much. Does bonus money count against the cap in year one or is it spread out. Does “dead money “ count against the cap 100% in the year player is cut?

Ed says: Robert, signing bonus money is spread out over the life of a contract. For example, if a player’s signing bonus is $20 million and his contract is for five years, that bonus money counts $4 million against the cap in each year of the contract — unless a void year is added to the deal. When a player is cut any bonus money remaining on his deal accelerates into the year he is cut.

Gino Phillips asks: When looking at roster building at the positional level how much do you think the look ahead to next year’s (2024) draft class gets weighed? If next year is expected to be a great year for a certain position compared to this year, does that maybe influence you to use your premium picks elsewhere (assuming that you have many needs) and maybe address that position this season with a veteran FA to bridge the gap.

Ed says: Gino, I think that is a really hard game to play. First of all, teams have not yet done much work on the 2024 class. They may have some vague ideas, but they are tunneled in on now — this draft, this free agency.

One thing teams do — and I have heard Jerry Reese, Dave Gettleman and Joe Schoen all talk about it — is look at their own roster. They know which players have contracts coming due after the upcoming season. They know who they are likely to lose, or willing to let go. They know which players on their roster are ‘placeholders,’ for lack of a better word, until they find someone else.

Teams will protect themselves in the draft by grabbing players at positions where they anticipate turnover a year down the road. That way they have a player with a year of experience ready to step in.

The Giants used to do this all the time at defensive tackle. Draft a player, after three years, draft a replacement. When that original player’s rookie contract ended, let him go. His successor was already in place.

Here is a thought about the current draft. If the Giants end up signing Daniel Jones and using the franchise tag on Saquon Barkley I will be shocked if they don’t add a potential successor somewhere in the first four rounds.

Benjamin Lawrence asks: If the Giants can’t finalize a contract with Daniel Jones and he gets tagged, do you think the tag and trade option then becomes viable? If so, what do you expect would be the Giants QB strategy?

Ed says: No, no, no and no again. How many times does Joe Schoen have to say Daniel Jones will be the Giants’ quarterback in 2023 before fans believe the guy. Jones is not getting tagged and traded. Their strategy is for Jones to be their quarterback in 2023. That’s it. End of story.