Last Thursday New York Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka agreed to restructure his contract, according to Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger. This move, plus the release of Ahmad Bradshaw, Chris Canty and Michael Boley, has freed up an estimated $15 million in cap space for 2013, per Vrentas.
Kiwanuka, like many other players that agree to restructure their deal, is not expected to lose a cent, as his cap number will go up slightly in 2014 and 2015. Could more Giants be following in Kiwanuka’s footsteps shortly, helping the team find the money to retain several key free agents?
Even though Kiwanuka’s cap figure was reduced from $5.125 million to $4.125 million, New York still has seven veterans slated to make upwards of $5 million in 2013. If a few of those players can agree to a restructured deal, re-signing soon-to-be unrestricted free agents—impact players, like Will Beatty, Martellus Bennett and Kenny Phillips—will become much more likely.
But the strapped-for-cash Giants’ troubles do not end there. Although restricted free agents lack the leverage their unrestricted counterparts possess, New York also has three big RFAs it would like to retain in 2013. RFAs Stevie Brown and Andre Brown both enjoyed breakout seasons in 2012, while RFA Victor Cruz is looking to be paid like the top-tier receiver that his statistics indicate him to be.
So where do the Giants go from here?
Eli Manning is tying up nearly 18 percent of the team’s total salary cap in 2013 ($20.35 million), but he is unlikely to restructure, considering he already did last March, following his second Super Bowl victory. New York will have to look elsewhere.
Justin Tuck and David Baas have similar cap figures in 2013—$6.15 million and $6.725 million, respectively—but no reports have surfaced about a possible restructure for either player. Instead, general manager Jerry Reese wants Tuck to “elevate” his play, according to Vrentas.
ESPN New York’s Ohm Youngmisuk referenced Antrel Rolle as a plausible option for a contract restructuring in his positional analysis of the Giants secondary; Rolle’s 2013 cap figure is slated at $9.25 million. Chris Snee, whose cap figure is a hefty $11 million, is another viable candidate, especially because he recently had offseason hip surgery and may be starting to wonder how much he has left in the tank.
However, whenever the salary cap topic has arisen this offseason, two names have been most frequently mentioned: David Diehl and Corey Webster.
Diehl was once a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle, but his skills have waned considerably in the past couple of seasons. His versatility has kept him in the starting lineup, though, whether it’s at either of the guard or tackle positions. His poor performance as of late makes it hard to justify his $6.825 cap figure in 2013.
Webster suffered a complete drop off in performance last season, consistently allowing opposing wide receivers to torch him down the sideline for big gains. In one year’s time, Webster went from a shutdown corner to a defender unworthy of a starting role on most NFL teams. New York may be anticipating a rebound year for Webster, but under no circumstance is he deserving of the $9.845 cap figure he’s costing the team in 2013.
If the Giants were pessimistic about Webster and Diehl’s upside in 2013, the two would have been ushered out the door with Bradshaw, Canty and Boley. It’s much more likely that the Giants see value in keeping them on the roster through next season, but not at their current price tags.
If Webster and Diehl can’t negotiate reasonable pay cuts, they could be at the risk of getting cut. If that’s the case, they should probably settle on a pay cut; neither player will be enthralled by his value on the open market, considering their underwhelming level of play in 2012.