If you want to strike fear in the heart of any NFL general manager, all you have to do is whisper two little words into their ears.
Other than injuries, nothing seems to create more angst for the NFL team architects than the annual spending budget that's part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Theoretically, the NFL salary cap shouldn’t be that difficult to manage, and it's simply a matter of basic math functions.
The problems occur when players outplay their contracts or, as is more often the case, see their skills start to decline as their annual cap figures rise.
In 2013, the New York Giants found themselves in a bad state of affairs regarding their salary cap—per the most recent NFLPA public cap report, they have just $17,447 of cap space in what’s left of the current league year.
The bad news is that they don’t appear to be in much better shape for the 2014 league year, which starts on March 11.
Per Over the Cap, the Giants have $116,718,676 committed toward their Top 51 total (in the offseason, only the 51 highest contracts count toward a team’s salary cap).
According to USA TODAY, the projected 2014 cap is expected to be approximately $126.3 million.
If that is indeed the magic number teams will have to work with, the Giants will have approximately $9.581 million in cap space to re-sign players like linebacker Jon Beason and defensive tackle Linval Joseph, as well as address the numerous glaring holes in their roster along the offensive line.
If the Giants hope to address their roster's holes. they’re going to have to clear more space.
Obviously, one way to do so would be to address the contracts of quarterback Eli Manning and safety Antrel Rolle, both of who currently count for a whopping $29.65 million, or 23.4 percent of the projected 2014 cap.
However, team CEO John Mara told reporters at the end of the season that he didn't think the team needed to go that route.
“It’s certainly something we’re going to talk about," Mara said via Tom Rock of Newsday. "It depends on how aggressive we want to be in free agency."
If the Giants stand pat with those two contracts, they'll instead have to trim some fat off their 2014 salary cap. In this slideshow, we'll look at six players who could be cap casualties that could result in an additional $14 million of cap space becoming available.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistical information is from Pro Football Focus (subscription required); all salary cap information is from Over the Cap; and all quotes and other information obtained firsthand unless otherwise sources.
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