The New York Giants find themselves without much room under the salary cap after their free agent shopping spree.
The team’s biggest acquisition was Nate Solder. Solder’s four-year, $62 million deal makes him the NFL’s highest paid offensive lineman. The Giants’ main target was Andrew Norwell, who was the NFL’s highest paid lineman after signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars until Solder agreed to his deal. Solder’s acquisition was part of general manager Dave Gettleman’s master plan to surround quarterback Eli Manning with “hog mollies” to keep him upright.
Gettleman also made moves that didn’t garner as much press as signing Solder, namely bringing in linebackers Alec Ogletree and Kareem Martin, offensive lineman Patrick Omameh, and running back Jonathan Stewart among others.
The Giants are probably done making major moves in free agency for two reasons: because their current cap situation doesn’t allow it and it was their intent all along. According to the website Over the Cap, the Giants have $5,750,150 in cap space. They will need every bit of the remaining space to sign their 2018 draft class.
In spite of their low salary cap space, the Giants have options to increase it. For example, they could take the base salary of a player that is expected to be with the team for a number of years and turn it into a signing bonus. If they were to take that route, it would free up money for this season and move some money to next season, when the team doesn’t have as many financial obligations.
The Giants have already reworked the contract of offensive lineman John Jerry. His 2018 base salary goes from $3.05 million to $1.075 million and the team eliminated next season. By doing this, Jerry’s cap number goes from $4.125 million to $3.6 million. The Giants could still make other moves, namely releasing wide receivers Dwayne Harris and Brandon Marshall.
Both Harris and Marshall suffered season-ending injuries last season. Harris is considered to have underperformed while Marshall (who ranks third among active players in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns) turns 34 on Mar. 23.
The Giants could also ask Manning, who has a cap hit of $22.2 million, to take a pay cut. The real question is whether No. 10 would be willing to take money out of his pocket for the benefit of the team, even though it would be for the sake of one last title run before he hangs up his cleats.
Of course, asking anyone to take less money sounds ludicrous regardless of what line of work they’re in. Manning is about to receive a $5 million roster bonus and it isn’t like the Giants will do to him what they did to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Do the Giants even have the stones to ask Manning to take a pay cut? After all, he was benched in an ignominious fashion, ending the second-longest consecutive start streak by a quarterback in NFL history. Unlike Brett Favre, who owns the longest such streak, Manning wasn’t benched because of injury. He stood in front of the cameras and shouldered the blame for the dumpster fire that was the Giants’ 2017 season, even though it wasn’t entirely his fault.
At the same time, Manning has the eighth-highest salary cap number in the league. Manning will turn 38 four days after the 2018 regular season finale. It stands to reason Manning’s play, regardless of the factors out of his control that may have contributed to it, doesn’t justify his high salary cap number. It will be interesting to see if the Giants ask him to take a pay cut in order to help pursue the team’s fifth Lombardi Trophy and ninth league championship overall.