5 New York Giants Who Are No Longer Worth Their Contract Figures
With six games to go for the New York Giants, it’s sometimes tempting to talk about the future—free agency and the draft in particular.
However, once the Giants’ weekly play ends (whenever that might be), the first step will be to trim away some of the big contracts of players who for one reason or another are no longer proving to be a good investment for the money.
You can probably guess who some of the prime targets are—linebacker Jon Beason and offensive tackle Will Beatty both come immediately to mind.
In looking at those contracts that are likely to be in the management’s cross-hairs, let’s talk about why the player is likely to be deemed no longer worth his contract and look at the potential savings the Giants might stand to gain if they do indeed make a move.
LB Jon Beason
Since signing a three-year, $17 million contract in March 2014, a deal Beason himself negotiated, the three-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker who turns 31 in January has played in nine games with eight starts.
The sad reality for Beason, who’s one of the hardest workers on the team, is that he can’t seem to shake the injury bug, particularly to his lower body where since joining the Giants via trade in 2013, he’s suffered toe, knee and ankle injuries that have kept him off the field and in the trainer’s room.
This year was no different. Beason suffered a sprained knee in a preseason game that caused him to miss the first two games of the season. When he returned, he did so as a part-time player, who participated in just 43.6 percent of the defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
That’s not a good track record for a guy who’s due to count for $6.566 million against the 2016 salary cap and who general manager Jerry Reese, perhaps foreshadowing what’s to come, admitted to reporters during his press briefing last week that “injuries have taken their toll” on Beason.
If the Giants and Beason do part ways either through a straight-out cut or the player’s decision to retire, they’ll save $5.1 million against the 2016 cap, with just a $1.466 million dead-money hit that would come off the books following the 2016 league year.
OL Will Beatty
From the moment offensive tackle Will Beatty suffered a torn pectoral in a weight-room accident this past May, his return to the lineup seemed to hinge on one thing and one thing alone: the play of rookie first-round draft pick Ereck Flowers.
While Flowers has had his share of bumps much like all rookies do, the coaching staff has wisely decided to leave the rookie, whom it considered as its future left tackle even before the injury to Beatty, where he is.
Beatty, meanwhile, spend almost the entire 21-day window of his post-PUP practice period practicing and trying to work his way back into the lineup, even taking snaps at right tackle and right guard, according to offensive line coach Pat Flaherty, who shared that nugget with reporters last week.
In the end, the big surprise was that Beatty was going to remain on PUP because of a shoulder issue for which he chose to have surgery.
The dynamics surrounding Beatty seem pretty clear in that he likely agreed to have the surgery with the thought that he’ll be released from a contract on which he still has two more seasons.
This way, at the age of 31 by the time the 2016 free agency begins, he can explore the market, where established left tackles generally command a decent payday, which would include guaranteed money for at minimum 2016.
With two years remaining on his current deal, the Giants would only save $4.175 million and would take a $5 million dead-money hit if they were to flat-out terminate Beatty’s contract without making him a post-June 1 designation.
That’s why it makes much more sense that, if they are indeed planning to terminate his contract, to designate him as a post-June 1 move.
In doing so, their savings would be $6.675 million with just $2.5 million in dead money for 2016 and 2017.
If Beatty is cut and is designated as a post-June 1 transaction, the Giants wouldn’t recognize that savings until after June 1—perfect timing, as right about then is when the 2016 draft picks’ contracts usually get done.
WR Victor Cruz
Another obvious player who can almost certainly count on having his contract adjusted is receiver Victor Cruz, who has played six games in the last two seasons due to knee and calf issues.
Cruz’s situation is a little more complex than that of Beason’s and Beatty’s in that the receiver has three years remaining on his six-year, $43 million contract extension that kicked in during the 2013 season.
To cut Cruz flat out would save the Giants $6.1 million in 2016 but cost them $3.8 million in dead money if they were to designate him as a pre-June 1 roster transaction.
If the Giants were to designate Cruz as a post-June 1 transaction—per Article 13, Section 6 (b) (II) of the current collective bargaining agreement, teams can have up to two post-June 1 designations each league year—they would save $8 million against the cap and be charged $1.9 million in dead money for 2016 and 2017.
What the Giants are more likely to do with Cruz is reduce his 2016 base salary of $7.9 million to take advantage of a little-known loophole regarding the prorating of player signing bonuses.
That loophole caps the number of years a team can prorate a player’s signing bonus at five. Since Cruz’s deal was technically a six-year deal, that means in 2018, his signing bonus no longer counts against the cap.
Let’s say the Giants reduce Cruz’s 2016 base salary to $3 million (which would be a shade below the the $2.97 million base salary Dwayne Harris, who has settled in at Cruz's slot position, is due to make in 2016), and convert the $4.9 million they took away into a signing bonus. That signing bonus would amortize to $1.633 million per year over the remaining three years of his contract (2016 through 2018).
What that means then is that Cruz would count for an additional $1.633 million in 2017 and 2018, while his 2016 cap figure would drop to approximately $4.63 million, a 46.7 percent reduction.
In addition, this tactic would allow for Cruz to attempt to re-establish himself as one of the league’s top receivers while ensuring that his pay remains competitive.
So what will the Giants do? Cruz is almost certainly not going to play 2016 on his current cap number. The scenario just described is one possibility; the more likely scenario is that the Giants will lower Cruz’s base salary and give him a chance to make up the difference via playing time and performance milestones.
OG Geoff Schwartz
The Giants had high hopes that Geoff Schwartz could be a staple on their offensive line for years to come.
However, since signing a four-year, $16.8 million contract in March 2014, Schwartz has spent more time dealing with the injury bug than he has opposing defensive linemen.
In 2014, he played 93 snaps upon his return from a broken toe only to be done in by a broken ankle. This year, he’s been there for every game despite some struggles with another ankle injury.
While there is something to be said about who lines up next to an offensive lineman—it’s possible that Schwartz’s numbers are not a complete representation of what he is able to do given that he’s lining up next to Marshall Newhouse, whose 36 pass pressures are second on the team behind rookie Ereck Flowers’ 39,
Schwartz, remember, did restructure his contract in 2015 following his injury-filled 2014 campaign, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, who reported that the team shaved $2 million of Schwartz’s 2015 base salary and converted that into per-game roster bonuses.
With that said, it is unlikely he’d be a target for a second restructuring in as many years. However with the last of his guaranteed money being paid out this year, the Giants stand to save close to $3 million with just a $1.9 million dead-money charge if they were to go in another direction that would cost them less than Schwartz’s $4.9 million 2016 cap figure.
RB Rashad Jennings
Realistically speaking, running back Rashad Jennings figures to be back in 2016 for a couple of reasons. One, he’s under contract through 2017 and two, his $2.812 million 2016 cap figure isn’t a backbreaker.
Upon closer study, Jennings’ return in 2016 might not be as cut-and-dried mainly due to value.
First, there is the emergence of Orleans Darkwa. Darkwa will be a restricted free agent after this season and is all but certain to receive a tender that will be a fraction of Jennings’ $2.23 million base salary in 2016.
If the Giants can get better production for less money—and thus far Darkwa has shown that he’s been very productive with his chances—maybe then it makes sense to finally pare down the four-man running back committee by trimming off the soon-to-be 31-year-old Jennings.
In 2014, Jennings carried the ball 167 in 11 games (he missed five games due to injuries). This year, he has carried the ball 105 times in 10 games played. That’s an average difference of 4.6 carries per game from last year, raising the question as to whether he has been reduced to a part-time player due to his injury history.
So what will the Giants do with Jennings? It’s possible they might not have to touch his deal—the NFLPA public report shows they have $12.192 million in cap space which, while still to be adjusted based on whether players with playing incentives hit those incentive this year, is a nice chunk of change.
If the Giants also make a move on the four other contracts mentioned in this slideshow, they could be looking at an additional windfall of more than $15 million on top of whatever they carry over.
The question, then, regarding Jennings is whether they’re getting the return on their investment. There are still six games to go, so the jury is still out.
Patricia Traina covers the Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced.