The New York Giants are in a tricky salary cap situation. The team placed the franchise tag on Leonard Williams which will account for over $19 million in cap space. The Giants do not even have that much cap space, so they will need to make some cuts to fit Williams under.
New York has already starting making cuts to clear cap space. Golden Tate, David Mayo, and Cody Core were all cap casualties. Levine Toilolo’s contract was also restructered to free up some 2021 cap space. But the Giants have a lot more space to clear if they want to sign Leonard Williams and any other free agentss.
Rumors and speculation have begun regarding the many different players that could be cap casualties in the 2021 offseason. One surprising and confusing name that has been floated out there is starting safety Jabrill Peppers.
Why cutting Jabrill Peppers is a terrible idea
Cutting Jabrill Peppers would save the New York Giants roughly $6.7 million in salary cap space. That money could help the Giants re-sign Leonard Williams or pursue a top wide receiver like Kenny Golladay. That is the argument for cutting one of the Giants’ best defensive players. That is the argument for cutting a 25-year-old safety that is a captain on the Giants’ defense, coming off of his best season of his career that saw him total a combined 91 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 11 passes defended.
There are not many safeties in the NFL that can match Jabrill Peppers’s 2020 production. There are even less safeties in the NFL that can produce at that level for the price of only $6.7 million. Jabrill Peppers is on the fifth year of his contract (the Giants picked up his fifth-year option last offseason). He has spent two seasons with the team and truly came into his own this past year.
Jabrill Peppers fit seamlessly into the Giants’ new defensive scheme under Patrick Graham. The Giants have preached all year long that they want to set a solid foundation and develop their young players. Cutting a defensive captain that is 25-years-old would accomplish the exact opposite. Peppers is a player that strengthens the Giants’ culture and roster.
Of course, the Giants have depth at the safety position. Peppers did a phenomenal job starting at strong safety in 2020. Logan Ryan was excellent at free safety. And behind their two starters, the Giants have two quality players in Julian Love and Xavier McKinney. However, the same fans that complain about the Giants fans never having any depth are the same fans that will advocate for cutting Peppers in order to sign a big-name free agent.
Cutting Jabrill Peppers severely weakens the back end of the Giants’ defense. Starting in his place would be the electric Xavier McKinney entering only his second season after spending the majority of the 2020 season on injured reserve. Julian Love would also see more playing time, but not in his utility role that he has blossomed into. The Giants also love to run nickel and dime packages on defense that feature three, sometimes four safeties on the field. These packages would be eliminated from New York’s playbook if Jabrill Peppers is released to clear cap space.
Additionally, Jabrill Peppers is a true leader for the Giants. Jabrill has spent time training with slot cornerback Darnay Holmes, mentoring him and Xavier McKinney. The Giants are building something special in their secondary. They have an abundance of young, talented players. These players are all close to each other and enjoy playing together. It would be a grave mistake for the Giants to ruin the chemistry they have created by cutting one of their best defensive players in Jabrill Peppers.