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5 Potential Salary Cap Moves That Can Help the New York Giants

Patricia TrainaContributor IDecember 17, 2013

5 Potential Salary Cap Moves That Can Help the New York Giants

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    The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

    Shortly following their 2013 regular-season finale, the New York Giants' front office will begin the unpleasant task of evaluating its current roster, of which more than two dozen players are due to have their respective contracts expire. 

    Before, the Giants can put together proposals for those players they want to try to keep from that group or which players they realistically have a chance at pursuing from other teams, the first step is to consider which players currently under contract no longer fit into their plans.

    By making these decisions and terminating those contracts accordingly, the Giants will increase their total available cap space.

    That amount, assuming the 2014 salary-cap projection of $126.3 million reported by Pro Football Talk is accurate, would be approximately $17,540,324. That figure is based on the $108,759,676 already committed to 2014's cap, per OvertheCap.com.  

    Will $17.54 million be enough for New York to satisfy all of their upcoming personnel needs? 

    Surprisingly, it might not.

    Besides the need to add talent, the Giants might want to lock up pending free agents such as cornerback Prince Amukamara and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, both of whom will be unrestricted free agents after the 2014 season. 

    If those moves are in the plans, then they would actually need more cap space to do so.

    The good news is that there are some moves they can make to help increase their 2014 cap space by approximately $14.7 million.

    In this slideshow, I’ve outline five potential steps that the Giants could take this offseason that could free up cap space.

    After the season, I'll look at other salary-cap-related strategies the Giants might take regarding free agency, contract restructurings and so forth.

    I’ll also analyze any new contracts or restructurings the Giants announce during the free-agency period.  

    For now, read on to find out what five moves the Giants might make before the start of the 2014 league year on March 11, 2014 to clear additional cap space.

Right Guard Chris Snee

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    Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

    Chris Snee, who will turn 32 years old next month, has had a long and successful career for the Giants.

    A former second-round draft pick in 2004, Snee is a four-time Pro Bowler, a three-time All-Pro selection and a two-time Super Bowl champion.

    A stalwart on the offensive line for nearly a decade, the wear and tear of the game appears to have caught up with Snee.

    He underwent surgery on his left hip after the Pro Bowl and started training camp on the physically unable to perform list.

    Unfortunately, his return was short-lived as his right hip started giving him trouble.

    As his conditioned worsened—according to a report in The Star-Ledger, Snee had bone chips and a labrum issue—he decided to get it taken care of.

    Prior to his surgery, Snee was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 4.  

    That brings us to his 2014 status. When it was apparent that his 2013 season was over, Snee declined to offer insight regarding the future of his career

    However, with an $11.75 million camp figure that includes a $7.2 million base salary, a $50,000 workout bonus and the prorated part of his signing bonus ($4.5 million), that's a hefty figure for a team to carry on a player whose skill might not be the same as it was during his heyday. 

    If the Giants and Snee part—my guess is that he'll retire—the Giants would be on the hook for $4.5 million in dead money.  

    Subtract that amount from his $11.75 million cap figure, and the Giants are looking at a very hefty $7.25 million cap savings. 

Tight End Brandon Myers

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    Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

    Although Brandon Myers technically signed a four-year contract, the final three years, which carry base salaries of $4 million per year, are voidable.

    The reason for the four-year deal was to spread his $1.5 million signing bonus into equal installments of $375,000 per year.

    With Myers unlikely to be retained beyond this year, the remaining three years of the contract would then be voided, and the Giants would be on the hook for $1.125 million in dead money.

    Deduct that $1.125 million from the $4 million base salary that he was due to make in 2014, and the Giants stand to save $2.875 million by voiding the deal.  

Corey Webster

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    Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

    Although Corey Webster played in all 16 games during the 2012 season, he did so while trying to battle through hand and hamstring injuries, and it showed in his performance.

    Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Webster was the lowest-ranked cornerback in the NFL last season, finishing with an overall minus-11.3 grade.

    He also posted a NFL passer's rating of 106.6, a score reflecting the opposing quarterbacks’ success rate against him in coverage. 

    As a result of the drop-off in his performance, the 31-year-old Webster took a pay cut that reduced his base salary from $7.25 million to $1.25 million.

    In addition, $3 million of the reduced base salary was converted into a bonus that was spread out over the 2013 and 2014 cap years.  

    Also part of the salary renegotiation, the Giants added an extra, voidable year to Webster's contract, which in 2014 is due to pay him a $1 million base salary.

    Webster has not had much luck this season with his health, missing 10 games this season with groin and ankle injuries.

    Despite being able to practice on a limited basis the past few weeks, he has been inactive.

    If the Giants do void the final year of his deal (2014), they would be on the hook for $1.25 million. Thus, his cap savings would be $1 million.

Defensive End Mathias Kiwanuka

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    Earlier this year, Mathias Kiwanuka agreed to a contract restructuring that dropped his salary from $2.95 million to $1.45 million.

    As is usually the case with a restructuring (not to be confused with a pay cut), the $1.5 million removed from his original 2013 base salary was converted into upfront money that, under the rules of the salary cap, can be spread over the remaining life of the contract.

    Kiwanuka, who has two years remaining on his contract, will count for a whopping $7.05 million in 2014, a number that includes a $4.375 million base salary, a $50,000 workout bonus and a $2.625 million prorated bonus charge. 

    That cap figure is probably a bit steep for a player who, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), is listed as the lowest-ranked defensive end on a 4-3 front.  

    Given the strong season that Justin Tuck, a pending unrestricted free agent, has put together, and the promise of rookie Damontre Moore, Kiwanuka could find himself out of the picture if the team decides to have a rotation of Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Moore.

    The Giants could also look to add another defensive end via free agency, such as Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks, a pending unrestricted free agent after this season.

    Getting back to Kiwanuka, their former first-round draft pick (2006), the Giants would be looking at $1.8 million in cap savings, and $5.25 million in dead money if they were to terminate his contract.

    If they use one of their two allotted post-June designations on Kiwanuka, their cap savings would increase to $4.425 million because half of the remaining prorated bonus ($5.25 million) would hit this year's cap, and the balance would hit in 2015.

    The downside to using a post-June 1 cap designation is that they would have to carry the player's entire cap figure on their books until June 1. 

    They would also have a cap charge against the 2015 cap, which is something that a team should try to avoid whenever possible so as to not put itself at a disadvantage that far down the line. 

Center David Baas

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    In 2011, David Baas, previously with the San Francisco 49ers, inked a five-year contract with the Giants worth $27.5 million. The deal, per Rotoworld, came with an $8.5 million signing bonus and $11.5 million guaranteed.

    He went on that season to play in 11 games as the anchor of a Giants offensive line that contributed to the team’s second Super Bowl championship under head coach Tom Coughlin.

    Baas made it through all 16 games in the 2012 season, but it was a struggle for him physically as he was listed on the team’s weekly injury report 11 out of 16 games for ailments to his hip, hand, ankle, elbow and shoulder.

    After that season, he underwent multiple surgeries on various body parts that were never identified publicly by the team.

    Although he escaped being placed on the physically unable to perform list at the start of the 2013 training camp, he wasn’t able to shake the injury bug.

    As a result, he was listed on the team’s weekly injury report for six out of the first seven games this season, his injuries consisting of a knee sprain and a neck issue.

    Baas, who agreed to a contract restructuring this past offseason that lowered his 2013 base salary from $4.25 million to $1.25 million in exchange for the $3 million difference upfront, is scheduled to count for $8.225 million against 2014’s cap.

    That’s a hefty number for a 32-year-old player with that kind of medical history.

    If the Giants decide to cut Baas, who per OvertheCap.com is listed as having the fourth-highest cap figure on the team in 2014, they would save $1.775 million due to a $6.45 million dead-money charge, which is not really a significant savings.

    What they could instead do with Baas is apply one of their two post-June 1 cap designations on him to increase their savings.

    If they take this step, Baas' total cap figure would remain on the books until June 1, After that, instead of being charged $6.45 million in dead cap money against their 2014 cap, they would only be charged $3.225 million.

    Thus, the savings on Baas if designated as a post-June 1 cap move would be $5 million.

    As noted on the previous slide, the Giants might not want to muddy their 2015 cap by using the post-June 1 designation.

    If they do part with Baas, they might just decide to take the hit, even though it is a hefty figure to absorb.

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