Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
If you’re looking for a good example of a player who always put the team before his individual statistics, look no further than Mathias Kiwanuka, the Giants’ first-round draft pick in 2006.
Kiwanuka entered the league as a defensive end, his natural position.
The coaches, however, saw something in the young man that made them think that he might be able to contribute in other ways, and that's why he switched to outside linebacker.
After the 2012 season, the coaches moved Kiwanuka back to defensive end, a move welcomed with open arms by the 30-year-old former Boston College star.
“To be able to slap your hand in the ground and not have to worry about going from one position to the other, it makes it more comfortable when you’re out there,” Kiwanuka told Dave Hutchinson of The Star-Ledger last offseason.
“I’m not going to lie about that. It was a move I was looking forward to.”
At the end of the 2013 season, he had appeared in 109 games, with 71 starts, accumulating 36 sacks, 274 tackles and three interceptions, per Pro Football Reference.
Perhaps the switching back and forth ultimately hurt Kiwanuka’s production—it’s hard to say for sure.
Per the data at Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he finished with a 5.1 grade at the end of the 2011 season and a -8.4 mark in 2012 when he split time at linebacker and defensive end.
This year, his -28.1 grade was the lowest grade of 4-3 defensive ends who took at least 75 percent of their team’s snaps.
If the Giants re-sign Justin Tuck, if Jason Pierre-Paul returns to form in 2014, and if Damontre Moore learns how to play against the run, Kiwanuka and his $7.05 million cap hit could be in danger.
Per Over the Cap, the Giants would be hit with $5.25 million in dead money charged to their 2014 cap if they terminate Kiwanuka's contract.
That’s, of course, assuming they don’t designate Kiwanuka as a post-June 1 transaction, at which point the dead money would be halved to $2.625 million for this year, with the balance hitting their 2015 cap.
Otherwise, by not designating Kiwanuka as a post-June 1 cap move, they would net a $1.8 million cap savings.