With the New York Giants trying to improve their team cap space in the coming weeks, they will have to make a few big decisions regarding prominent players on the roster who are set to earn significant money this upcoming season.
The team currently has -$7.6 million available in funds, so restructuring contracts, trading players, or simply cutting them are all options on the table.
Aside from James Bradberry, Sterling Shepherd, and even Logan Ryan, linebacker Blake Martinez holds a massive cap hit for the 2022 season. The team is preparing to pay $14 million to Martinez, but if they cut him, they would save $8.5 million and accrue a $5.5 million dead money hit.
Given Martinez is coming off a torn ACL, paying that type of money is unrealistic at this point. If the Giants don’t cut him, restructuring his contract and reducing his cap hit makes logical sense.
#Giants LB Blake Martinez is a player to watch over the next week. Due $8.525 million this season (cap number: $14.025m) and coming off a torn ACL. Team is interested in retaining him but trying to rework his deal, sources say. Resolution has to work for both sides. We'll see.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 7, 2022
The break-even point for the Giants is an $8.5 million reduction in his salary, which is how much they would save if they cut him alternatively. That reduces his cap hit to $6 million for the 2022 season, a far more appropriate number given the injury he sustained.
However, let’s take a look at another linebacker who suffered a similar fate after the 2020 season. Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr sustained a torn pectoral muscle in a Week 2 against the Colts two years ago, missing the majority of 2020.
Barr was in the middle of a five-year, $67.5 million deal, paying him $13.5 million per year on average. Instead, Minnesota tore up his contract after the injury and signed him to a one-year, $8.6 million contract, allowing him to stay with the team but not destroy their salary space in the process.
Barr was earning a bit more than Martinez per season by about $3 million, so tearing up the current Giants linebacker’s contract and offering him a one-year, $6-7 million deal makes sense, given the example.
As one of the league’s most productive tacklers and easily the best linebacker on the roster, losing him would be a significant blow. Just two years ago, during his first season with Big Blue, Martinez recorded 151 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, and tallied five passes defended. He was on pace for another solid season before going down against Atlanta Falcons in Week 3.
The Giants would be hard-pressed to find a better replacement than Martinez on the free agency market given their salary situation, so keeping him on a reasonable contract after the injury is the most efficient move.