New York Giants Reader Mailbag: Cap Cuts and Personnel Projections

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New York Giants Reader Mailbag: Cap Cuts and Personnel Projections
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
After a disappointing 2013 season, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is going to have a very different looking roster in 2014.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a New York Giants reader mailbag.

Shame on me, because there's been a lot that has happened worth talking about since the season ended. Among the hot topics are the new offensive coaches, potential cap moves that might be coming up, the NFL scouting combine and free agency. 

But fear not, because I'm going to try to do these mailbags a little more frequently this offseason, starting right now.  

In this installment, we look at the cap and some potential roster moves. Enjoy!

 

Thanks for the question, Jim. The dead money counts against a team’s salary cap regardless of whether a player finishes his contract.

If a team designates a cut player as one of its two annual post-June 1 transactions, that affects the amount of dead money that accelerates into the current year's cap.

Let’s look at center David Baas' contract as an example.

Courtesy of Over the Cap

Based on the contract breakdown as detailed by Over the Cap, if Baas were to be cut before June 1, the Giants would save $1.775 million, a figure that is calculated by taking his remaining prorated bonus ($6.45 million) and subtracting that from his total 2014 cap number ($8.225 million).

If Baas were to be cut and designated as a post-June 1 transaction, the Giants’ savings would increase to $5 million.

Al Bello/Getty Images

Per NFL salary cap rules, a team using the June 1 designation will only be charged for the player's current year’s prorated bonus while the balance will accelerate against the team’s cap in the following year. This is why you oftentimes see players cut with at least two years left on their contract.

The benefit of doing this obviously is to increase the overall cap savings; however, it comes with a stipulation. 

The savings of any player contracts designated as a post-June 1 transaction cannot be recognized by the team until June 2 of that year.

So why would a team want to wait? Besides optimizing its cap space for the summer and for the upcoming season, the added windfall can be used to help the team sign its rookie draft class, which, remember, won't be selected until the first week of May this year.

Another drawback of designating a player as a post-June 1 move is that the portion of the signing bonus that doesn't accelerate into the current year's cap will have to be carried on the next year's cap.

Sometimes teams don't want to have to carry players on their books for two years as it's not always strategically sound business, especially if the remaining prorated bonus chews up a huge amount of cap space and the following year's cap isn't expected to raise by much. 

For more information about dead money, please check out “A Guide to the NFL Salary Cap” on Over the Cap. Be sure to pay particular attention to the “prorated bonus” and “dead money” sections.

 

Great question, James. My guess is that the coaches would like to see Damontre Moore step up into a larger role.

The problem, though, is that last year, his rookie season, he missed some chunks of practice time due to injuries that appeared to stunt his development.

Moore also was used sparingly against the run. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Moore’s snap distribution consisted of 100 as a pass rusher and just 34 in run defense. 

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

When I watched Moore on tape, he seemed like an eager beaver who didn't always seem to have a plan out there. As a result, there were some plays that he should have made but didn't.  

I think he needs to settle down just a bit and play with a little more control so he doesn’t miss play-making opportunities. I also think if he can stay healthy and devote an entire offseason to his craft, he'll be that much better in his second year.

Besides Moore, I think if Tuck leaves, the Giants will hold onto Mathias Kiwanuka, who, although I had him listed as a potential salary cap cut, will probably stick around regardless given the uncertainty regarding Tuck's return and the recovery of Jason Pierre-Paul.  

Dan Graziano of ESPN pointed out that Pierre-Paul has really had just one strong season in his four in the NFL so far, and that if he's not fully recovered from back and shoulder issues that dragged him down in 2013, that could potentially affect how they proceed with Tuck.  

It’s still early, but if I had to predict what the future holds, I think the Giants and Tuck work out a short-term deal. I also think the Giants sign another veteran, perhaps during the second or third wave of free agency.

Lastly, I think they try to draft a defensive end to prepare for a future that includes Pierre-Paul becoming an unrestricted free agent.  

 

Thanks for the question, Mike. Right now, that’s hard to answer because we don’t yet know much about the exact type of offense McAdoo plans to run.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

I think the Giants are going to look to fill the running back spot with a veteran. Two early names that jumped out at first glance were Houston’s Ben Tate and Detroit’s Joique Bell, the latter of whom is a restricted free agent and a long shot.

A more realistic possibility, in my opinion, is James Starks of Green Bay, a UFA who is the sixth-best free-agent running back on Pro Football Focus’ (subscription required) free-agent tracker.   

As far as the draft, I would assume the Giants plan to stick with their “best player available” draft strategy. As results of the combine and pro days start to help the position rankings take shape, we can revisit your question if you'd like to see what draft prospects might be worth a look.

 

Mike, that’s a great question. My gut feeling is that the Giants will leave Beatty at left tackle. 

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Left tackles don’t grow on trees and you have to remember that Eli Manning is coming off a horrible year. It probably isn’t a good idea to put a rookie in there protecting his blindside unless you’re talking about a Jonathan Ogden type.

Having a rookie on the right side is a bit different of a scenario because you can scheme to minimize his exposure.

Regarding Pugh, I think his flexibility will allow the Giants to go several different directions on the offensive line.

They obviously could leave him at right tackle. If they have a chance to draft a rookie right tackle at No. 12, which is a very real possibility, they can do that and move Pugh inside to one of the guard spots.

If they cut Baas and decide to not pursue a top-notch center in free agency, they could also move Pugh inside to center if they find that guards and tackles are abundant in the draft and in free agency.  

 

Thanks to everyone who submitted a question to me via Twitter. If you have a question for my next reader mailbag, tweet it to me using the hashtag #askpat, or post a comment underneath any of these mailbag columns.

I am the senior editor for Inside Football, an independent, accredited publication covering the New York Giants. All quotes and information obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. 

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