Giants’ rookie corners could open up a boatload of cap flexibility in the future

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Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants have made some intriguing financial maneuvers recently, notably restructuring quarterback Daniel Jones’s contract. By converting $8.42 million of his base salary into a signing bonus, the Giants have successfully freed up $6.315 million in cap space for the 2023 season.

Financial Health and Key Players to Consider

Currently, the Giants are in a solid financial position, with $58.68 million available for the 2024 season. However, when you factor in the costs for next year’s rookie class, that number is likely to dip to around $50 million. That said, there are key personnel decisions ahead: what to do about Adoree Jackson and Leonard Williams, and how to plan for Xavier McKinney’s future.

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Rookie Corners as Potential Salary Cap Saviors

Two rookie cornerbacks could be the solution to the Giants’ future salary cap constraints, provided they deliver on the field.

Deonte Banks: A Future Star on Defense?

First-round pick Deonte Banks, at just 23 years old, has a cap hit that will max out at $4.3 million by the 2026 season. This timeline provides the Giants with an opportunity to evaluate him thoroughly before making a call on his fifth-year option.

In essence, Banks could offer a starting-level defensive back at a relatively low cost. He has the athleticism to become a No. 1 corner in the NFL and will join Adoree Jackson, who’s projected to cover Ceedee Lamb in the slot against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1.

Hawkins: A Low-Cost, High-Upside Option

Hawkins, a product of Old Dominion, also 23 years old, has a peak salary hit of just $1.18 million by the 2026 season. This offers an even more financially attractive option for the Giants. During training camp and preseason, Hawkins has shown promising signs, although he has yet to be tested in live action. What’s encouraging is his fit within Wink Martindale’s defensive scheme, particularly against the run.

The Financial Boon of Rookie Corner Deals

Together, Banks and Hawkins will command a peak combined salary of $5.5 million, offering the Giants considerable financial flexibility. The saved cap space could be used strategically—for instance, to bolster the offensive line or to sign a star free-agent wide receiver.

The Giants are Embracing Youth

Having two starting corners on rookie deals is more than just a boon; it’s practically a windfall if the Giants can make it work. However, it’s worth acknowledging that young talent often comes with a side of inconsistency and unpredictability. The Giants will need to navigate any bumps in the road as they arise while keeping their focus on developing these rookies into reliable assets. After all, grooming young talent is not just about winning games; it’s about long-term financial strategy as well.