The New York Giants have some difficult decisions to make this off-season, as they look to open up salary space to sign players in free agency. During the annual press conference with owner John Mara and general manager Dave Gettleman, they both insisted that upgrading the offense is a necessity.
Mara specifically said that resources will be allocated toward the upgrading of the unit, as quarterback Daniel Jones desperately needs more quality weapons to reach his potential in year three. The Giants are quickly running out of time on his rookie contract as they waste seasons, and injuries continue to plague the team. Jones saw a notable drop-off in quality from his rookie campaign, going from 24 touchdowns to 11 under OC Jason Garrett. While he did alleviate some of his turnover problems, seeing a decrease in interceptions and fumbles, he still lacks pocket awareness at times and makes inexcusable judgments.
However, providing DJ with better quality receivers who can win in man-coverage and separate from defenders should increase his efficiency and allow him to make better choices. Throwing into man-coverage can oftentimes lead to turnovers, as tight end Evan Engram can attest to. Five interceptions this past season on Jones were direct result of balls that bounced off Engramâ€™s hands.
While Gettleman could utilize the draft to help Jones on offense, we shouldnâ€™t rule out a potential free-agent signing. But first thingâ€™s first, they have to find ways to open up cap space, especially with Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson still needing new deals.
Three players the New York Giants can cut for cap relief:
1.) Nate Solder
Solder opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, which ultimately pushed his contract one year. He still has three years remaining on his deal, but the anticipation is that the Giants will cut him post-June 1. If they do so, they will save $10 million instead of $6 million if they cut him prior.
Considering the Giants allocated the fourth overall pick toward a left tackle this past year, the only way Solder sticks around is if he makes the transition to right tackle, and the Giants feel they can consume the money. However, I highly doubt they will hold onto his $16.5 million cap hit, so we should expect them to move on and gain a bit of relief.
2.) Golden Tate
Golden Tate is another player the Giants will likely move on from after posting 388 yards and two touchdowns this season. Gettleman essentially replaced Odell Beckham Jr. with Tate, who has had successful seasons in the past but is not a No.1 WR who can create ample separation. Heâ€™s more of a glorified slot receiver, and with Sterling Shepard at that position already, there was an influx of interior guys that like speed on the boundary.
There is an out in Tateâ€™s contract after the 2020 season, which will count $4.7 million in dead cap. They would save about $6 million from cutting him and adding that tho Solderâ€™s savings would open up $16 million to spend on either Leonard Williams or a potential wide receiver.
3.) Kevin Zeitler
While I donâ€™t think the Giants should cut Kevin Zeitler, his contract indicates potential savings. This past season, he finished with a 65.9 overall grade, per PFF, the lowest in his entire career. However, heâ€™s one of the most consistent linemen for the Giants, representing a fantastic pass blocker. Nonetheless, he has one year left on his contract and will count $14.5 million in 2021.
If the Giants cut him, they will save approximately $12 million, which is a ton of money, but they would be losing their best and most consistent lineman. Personally, I think it would be malpractice to let him go, as the Giants have multiple rookies on the line and can afford to pay their only above-average player.
If the Giants did cut all three of these players, they would open up $28 million in available money, which would be incredibly helpful given the circumstances due to COVID-19.