In recent years, the New York Football Giants utilized almost every available dollar available to them under the NFL salary cap. Super Bowl winning teams typically have to go that route in order to try and remain at a high level. Unfortunately, when some players hit their professional peak during the championship season; the team finds itself in a financial bind as a result. Clearly that happened to Big Blue as a result of winning Super Bowl XLVIII, causing the tailspins of 2012 and 2013.
In analyzing a team’s salary cap management, the discussion should begin with the quarterback. In the vast majority of situations, the QB is the team’s highest paid player. In the Giants’ case, this is the reality as well, with Eli Manning’s contract representing a cool $20.4 million of cap space this year, according to the website OvertheCap.com. The website also ranks Manning’s contract as the tenth rated quarterback contract in the NFL with the average per year (APY) value of his contract at $16.25 million. In comparison, the Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Romo has an APY value of $18 million, and this is for a quarterback who has a 1-3 playoff record and 0-3 record in play-in games. For a signal caller who has won two Super Bowl titles (and MVP awards), Manning’s contract appears to be reasonable, and keep in mind, he will also be playing for a possible extension this year, since his contract expires after the 2015 season.
In fact after cutting David Baas, and restructuring Mathias Kiwanuka and Chris Snee this spring, the Giants really do not have any outrageous contracts moving forward. Recent free agent acquisitions, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Geoff Schwartz and Rashad Jennings, all signed reasonable multi-year contracts. Other veterans who were brought on board with previous injuries, like J.D. Walton and Jameel McClain have affordable two-year deals in place. And a third tier of free agents like Zack Bowman, Mario Manningham, Walter Thurmond and Quintin Demps signed one-year deals.
Because of his knee injury, Manningham may be a bit of a gamble, but he has proven to have great chemistry with Eli Manning. In the case of Bowman, Thurmond and Demps, fans should be excited to see the prospect of a high performing defensive backfield with the return of Stevie Brown, as well as incumbent cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Trumaine McBride in the mix.
The naysayers will call the Will Beatty contract an albatross, but in fairness, that has yet to be determined. OverTheCap.com ranks Beatty’s contract 12th among left tackles in the league, which should be considered middle of the pack, and not outrageous. Time will certainly tell whether or not general manager Jerry Reese made a wise decision in locking up Beatty to a five-year deal after the 2012 season. Pro Football Focus (PFF) ranks Beatty as the 64th rated offensive tackle in the league, with an overall rating of – (11.7). Clearly, Beatty has much ground to make up in his on-field performance, especially coming back after broken leg suffered in the season finale against Washington. But fans need also to keep in mind that left tackles do not grow on trees, so patience will be a virtue when it comes to Beatty.
Because of his recent foot injury, Jon Beason’s contract does not look like a great value for New York at this point in time. The G-men invested $17 million over three-years into the former All Pro middle linebacker. After suffering through two injury filled campaigns with the Carolina Panthers in 2011 and 2012, Beason came to New York in an October 2013 trade, and breathed new life into a dormant defense. But the reality is that because of his most recent injury, sustained in organized team activities (OTAs), the Beason contract ($5.76 million average value for three years) may be the most concerning on the roster right now, especially if he cannot perform at a quality level (i.e.-Jason Pierre-Paul in 2013) in 2014.
Clearly the Beatty and Beason deals should cause the most alarm right now not only because of the dollar amounts and terms, but also that both man key positions on the roster, which represents double jeopardy for the Giants.
But the good news is that the Giants are about $6.9 million under the salary cap, according to OTC. With potential holes at tight end and on the offensive line, Reese and company will have the flexibility to upgrade these positions, as well as bring on suitable replacements when the invariable injury bug bites during the season.
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