We are now at that point in the calendar where the words “salary cap space” become part of the sports lexicon.
Most people who follow the National Football League do not understand the inner workings of how salary cap works. All people really know is the amount of cap space their favorite team has, not necessarily what the team can do with it or how that’s accomplished.
For example, fans of the New York Giants should know the team will have between $25 million and $30 million in salary cap space. This number could increase over the next couple of weeks as the team decides which players will be cut.
The number is especially important as the Giants’ new staff looks to replenish (or rebuild) areas of need, like the offensive line. The $25 million to $30 million cap number looks relatively small (the stadium mate New York Jets will have $80 million in cap space to work with this offseason), but it is something the Giants can work with.
The Giants went on an uncharacteristic spending spree in the 2016 offseason, bringing in defensive tackle Damon Harrison, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and defensive end Olivier Vernon. Last summer, the team gave defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul the contract extension he sought.
Next offseason, the Giants will able to extricate themselves from all four of those contracts if they so desire. If they don’t, the Giants will still be in good shape financially. The website Over the Cap estimates that the Giants will have close to $70 million in cap space in 2019 even without departing with Harrison, Jenkins, Vernon, or Pierre-Paul.
“We’re healthy,” assistant general manager Kevin Abrams, whose duties include handling contract negotiations and managing the salary cap. “We won’t have any restrictions on what we can do based upon the salary cap. We’ll have tough decisions like we have every offseason, but we don’t have to make any decisions because of the salary cap.”
The Giants’ tough decisions include figuring out what to do with costly veterans like wide receiver Brandon Marshall and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. There is also the matter of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who will play 2018 under the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. Safety Landon Collins, who finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2016, is entering the final year of his rookie deal.
The Giants will be able to add pieces this offseason without breaking the proverbial bank. At the same time, they realize rebuilding the offensive line (a priority of Gettleman’s) is not going to come cheap. Retaining the services of Beckham and Collins will cost money as well.
The Giants will also get financial relief when quarterback Eli Manning’s contract comes off the books after the 2019 season. Davis Webb will be available at a much cheaper rate than Manning’s. The same holds true if the Giants use the second overall pick in April’s NFL Draft to select a quarterback.