New York Giants Player Contracts That Need to Be Addressed
As the New York Giants continue their search for a new head coach after Tom Coughlin's departure, the personnel department has no doubt commenced its annual review of every player who has donned a Giants uniform during the 2015 season.
This extensive process will likely entail identifying who the core players are, which upcoming free agents need to be re-signed and who can be let go.
So let’s don our general manager hat and hone in on a segment of this process—the contracts the Giants need to address.
The following slides will look at existing contracts that are likely headed for either termination or restructuring and those key soon-to-be unrestricted free agents who may or may not be back with the team in 2016.
OT Will Beatty
That cap figure would be all well and good if Beatty were penciled in as the left tackle for 2016; however, that’s not likely going to be the case so long as Ereck Flowers is healthy.
Beatty is also coming off multiple injuries, including a pectoral tear and a shoulder issue, the latter of which required surgery. Those two upper-body injuries would certainly have to give the Giants reason to pause when considering whether to keep the 30-year-old Beatty around on his projected 2016 cap figure.
So what to do with Beatty? One possibility would be to leave his cap figure as is and move him to right tackle.
However, it’s unclear whether he’s agreeable to that. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if Beatty, whose current deal has paid out all of the guaranteed money owed him, rebukes any attempts to move him to right tackle or to cut his salary-cap number down, thereby forcing his release.
Such a move would be a gamble, but given the market for left tackles and the likelihood Beatty could probably get a new contract with some guaranteed money from another team in need of a left tackle, it would not be a stunning development if Beatty and the Giants part ways.
Regarding the savings, New York would save $4.175 million if it designates Beatty a pre-June 1 transaction, but it’d be hit with a one-time dead-money charge of $5 million.
The more likely scenario, should the Giants decide to cut Beatty, would be to designate him as a post-June 1 cap transaction. This would increase their cap savings to $6.675 million with $2.5 million in dead money (instead of $5 million) charged to the 2016 cap and to the 2017 cap.
WR Victor Cruz
Injuries are a rather unfortunate part of the game, and it’s not fair to go after a player’s earnings if he gets hurt putting himself on the line for a team.
Then again, this is the NFL, a business where sometimes things just aren’t fair.
That’s probably what receiver Victor Cruz, who has missed the last 30 games because of injury, is about to find out this offseason. Cruz is due to count for $9.9 million against the 2016 cap, a figure that includes a $7.9 million base salary.
That’s a lot of money to be tied up in a receiver who relied on his burst and explosiveness but offers no guarantees of being the same player he was prior to suffering a torn patellar tendon in his knee in the 2014 season and then a calf issue in the summer of 2015 that wiped out that campaign.
What the Giants management will likely do with Cruz this year—and what it should do—is restructure his 2016 earnings, perhaps inserting some play-time and performance incentives that, if met, will bring Cruz close to earning every penny of that original base salary.
LB Jon Beason
Linebacker Jon Beason is another example of a player and a leader who is everything a team could want in a linebacker.
Unfortunately, Beason’s lower-body injury history has continued to take its toll on his once-special skill set to where it would not be surprising if he and the Giants go in a different direction in 2016.
Holding the fifth-highest cap figure on the team—$5.966 million with a $2.8 million base salary, a $2.2 million roster bonus and a $100,000 workout bonus—that’s a hefty figure to carry for a soon-to-be 31-year-old linebacker whose lower-body injuries have included his Achilles, knee and foot.
As we saw in 2015, before a knee injury landed Beason on injured reserve for the fifth time in the last six seasons, he had been reduced to a two-down linebacker.
If a team is going to shell out that kind of money for a player, it’ll probably want that player to be an every-down guy or at least close to it. Given the turn of events combined with his cap figure, Beason doesn’t appear to be that every-down linebacker and thus becomes a luxury this team is unlikely to retain.
OL Geoff Schwartz
Remember how after the Giants drafted Ereck Flowers, the starting offensive line was supposed to be a finished product?
That has not been the case because of injuries such as the one to left tackle Will Beatty, previously discussed, and to right guard Geoff Schwartz, who landed on injured reserve for the second consecutive season since joining the Giants.
In two seasons with New York, Schwartz has logged just 13 games. Again, while the injuries aren’t his fault, the pattern that has emerged makes his 2016 cap figure of $4,908,333 ($3.925 million of which is his base salary) too much to carry forward.
Of note is that 2016 is the first year of Schwartz’s original four-year Giants deal in which he does not have guaranteed money. If the Giants were to terminate his contract prior to June 1, they would save just $2.991 million; if they designate him a post-June 1 move, their savings increase to $3.95 million, which should be plenty to pay the 2016 draft class.
What about the dead money? By designating Schwartz as a post-June 1 cut, the Giants would only be charged $958,334 against their 2017 salary cap; if they cut Schwartz prior to June 1, their dead-money cap hit, all of which gets dumped into the 2016 cap, is $1.916 million.
Given that Bobby Hart, the team’s seventh-round pick who showed promise as both a right guard and a right tackle, comes a lot cheaper, it would not be far-fetched if the Giants were to cut Schwartz, plug Hart in at right guard and seek a starting right tackle such as Schwartz’s brother, Mitchell, currently the right tackle for the Cleveland Browns.
OT Marshall Newhouse
Although Marshall Newhouse didn’t receive a blockbuster type of deal like the others mentioned in this slideshow, the Giants could probably lop off Newhouse’s $1.7 million cap figure to save $1.3 million.
They could then apply their savings toward a minimum qualifying veteran offer (maybe for a younger offensive lineman) for someone who could provide depth until the personnel department is able to replenish some of the young talent who flopped such as James Brewer, Brandon Mosley, Matt McCants and Eric Herman.
Newhouse, by the way, wasn’t quite the disaster many thought he’d be, certainly not in the same vein as Charles Brown the year prior.
Per Pro Football Focus, Newhouse was, however, the second-lowest overall offensive lineman, just ahead of Ereck Flowers, the latter of whom at least has more upside at this point in his career.
Unless otherwise noted, all salary information is from Over the Cap.
Patricia Traina covers the Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced.
Follow me on Twitter @Patricia_Traina.