Giants' Top Contracts to Consider Cutting Ahead of NFL Free AgencyFebruary 8, 2021
Giants' Top Contracts to Consider Cutting Ahead of NFL Free Agency
The New York Giants enter the 2021 offseason looking to build on a promising campaign. While New York's 6-10 record wasn't impressive in and of itself, the team showed growth under new head coach Joe Judge and nearly took home the NFC East title.
Re-signing key players—like defensive linemen Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson—and building on the past season's roster should be the goal this offseason. However, New York will likely have to do some salary trimming first.
The Giants are projected to be nearly $4 million over the salary cap.
Here we'll examine three players whose contracts the Giants must consider cutting. Factors like player performance and upside will be considered here, but financial savings will be the big one. Could some of these players be back in 2021? Sure, but ideally not at their current prices.
OT Nate Solder
Offensive tackle Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 season, which is part of the reason why the Giants used the fourth overall pick in the draft on former Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. Another reason was that Solder didn't quite live up to his four-year, $62 million contract the previous two seasons.
Solder was supposed to be New York's new anchor along the offensive line, but he was average at best.
"Leaving Solder on Daniel Jones' blind side might get the youngster killed," Bleacher Report's Gary Davenport wrote after the 2019 season.
So the Giants grabbed Thomas to be their left tackle of the future, and now they have a decision to make with Solder. He still has $10 million in dead money on his contract, but parting with him would save more than $6 million on the cap.
New York has to consider pulling the plug on the Solder experiment.
OG Kevin Zeitler
Guard Kevin Zeitler was acquired as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade and has been far less disappointing than Solder. While he hasn't been a Pro Bowler for the Giants, he's been a fine interior blocker and a mauler in the run game.
However, Zeitler will turn 31 in March and is entering the final year of his current contract. Parting with him would save $12 million on the 2021 cap.
Zeitler can be a valuable piece of New York's offensive line for the next several seasons, but his price tag is problematic. The Giants should approach him about a contract restructuring and consider releasing or trading him if a new deal cannot be negotiated.
While Zeitler is a fine guard, he's not irreplaceable by any means. Given the financial state of the franchise, $12 million in potential savings is probably more valuable than one more season with him on the interior.
S Jabrill Peppers
Safety Jabrill Peppers also arrived as part of the Beckham deal, and while the former Michigan standout has had some flashes of promise in New York, he has yet to develop into a defensive centerpiece. He had 11 passes defended in 2020 but only one interception on the season.
The key factor with Peppers has more to do with his contract than his performance, though. He's set to play on the fifth-year option with a cap hit of nearly $7 million. If the Giants decide to part with Peppers before the start of the new league year, none of that money will be guaranteed.
This is a tough one, as Peppers is just 25 and has shown flashes of being a high-end defender. However, New York desperately needs cap space, and moving him could provide a big chunk of it.
Trading Peppers and getting a little something back in return may be the best course of action here.
Contract and cap information via Spotrac.