According to multiple news outlets the Giants will be releasing linemen Will Beatty and Geoff Scwartz and linebacker Jon Beason today. All three dealt with injuries last season. The moves, which were not really unexpected, will save the Giants $11.575 million on the cap and bring their expected cap room somewhere between $52 and $55 million for the year. That will rank in the top 5 in the NFL. No word yet on Victor Cruz who is the other likely release. Continue reading Giants Cut Beatty, Beason and Schwartz »
Current Estimated 2016 Cap Space: $42.9 million
Expected 2016 Cap Space: $57.8 million
Estimated Rookie Cap: $5.942 million
Each year teams set their salary cap for hopes of maximizing their roster efficiency in a given year. Injuries can throw all the planning a team makes out of wack, putting millions upon millions of dollars on the sidelines and leaving a team thin with talent. So what teams are being impacted the most by injuries as they take the field today? Read on… Continue reading Cowboys Lead the Way with Injury Lost Cap Dollars »
I want to start the Giants series with a position outside of what most people are discussing this offseason for the Giants and that is, the running back position. As you may have read, I’ve also really reexamined my own opinion on the running back position compared to a piece that I wrote before the season.
It’s not that Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings did a bad job for the Giants this year, they combined for 1360 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground, but if the Giants want to be great, they aren’t going to be enough. Many of us forget that the Giants went into 2014 with the idea that David Wilson would be a part of their rushing attack this year, but unfortunately he had to retire.
A backfield of Wilson, Williams and Jennings sure sounds a lot more dynamic, especially when you consider that Williams and Jennings averaged 3.3 and 3.8 yards per carry respectively and only 48 catches for 356 yards. As a team, the Giants rushed for 3.6 yards per carry, which has them ranked 30th, in front of only the Chargers and Cardinals. The Giants had 1603 yards as a team, which was 23rd in the league and 100 yards per game.
The Giants backfield only had 62 catches for 469 yards and zero touchdowns with Williams and Jennings having 48 and 356 of those. Le’Veon Bell, Matt Forte, Fred Jackson and Roy Helu all outgained the Giants RBs in the passing game.
The Packers don’t pass the ball to running backs a lot either, the Giants RBs actually had 10 more targets, but Eddie Lacy had 42 catches for 427 yards and four touchdowns himself this season, which makes him tied for 11th in catches among RBs and 6th in receiving yards. Eddie Lacy averaged 10.2 yards per catch, while Williams and Jennings averaged 7.5 or less and all season, I really thought the Giants offense missed having a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, which hampered their ability to keep defenses on their heels.
In my opinion, Jennings and Williams would best serve the Giants as a supplement to one of the RBs in this class with superstar potential. I do think that Jennings could do well in the Eddie Lacy role for the Giants if he stays healthy, but I wouldn’t bet my season on it. Williams runs the ball with the same kind of power Lacy does, but he didn’t even catch passes in college, so I don’t expect him to take on that role as a pro.
Considering that Jennings will be 30 this season, Williams not being much of a pass catcher, and the depth of this year’s draft class at RB, I think the Giants should draft a running back in the third through fifth round depending on how they address their issues on the offensive and defensive line and who the best available player on the board is. I also want the Giants to have someone ready to replace most of Jennings’ production in 2016.
Due to signing Jennings, the Giants have a bit of a high 2015 cap number at the running back position at $8 million, but drafting a mid-round running back shouldn’t hurt them. Their cap number will also go down with David Wilson retired and most of his $2.1 million cap number coming off the books. I think that another million dollars will be freed up when the Giants release Peyton Hillis this offseason. If they drafted a runner in the third round, it’d cost them $608,484 against the salary cap, which is much less than the $945,000 they were set to owe Hillis in 2015.
Even though teams don’t have success signing RBs to multi-year contracts under the new CBA, I can’t fault the Giants for going out and getting Jennings because he’ll be the veteran leader of this group for the next couple years. I also know that the Giants had to go out and get someone last offseason with the uncertainty involved with Wilson’s injury.
Watching the Packers play against the Cowboys on Sunday, got me so excited for watching the 2015 Giants with another year to practice this offense.
I think that Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL, but with the weapons that the Giants could have around Manning in the fall, I think he could compete with Rodgers statistically and, in turn, lead the Giants to a championship with the addition of a few of the right pieces this offseason. The Giants skill position players they have signed for 2015 are very comparable to what the Packers had this year.
Beckham, Cruz, Randle, Jennings and Williams are a good base to build off of and with the right decisions this offseason; the Giants could have talent at the skill spots that exceeds the Packers.
Looking back at what worked during Super Bowl seasons, in 2007, the Giants had four quality running backs with Jacobs, Ward, Reuben Droughns, and Bradshaw. If I’m Jerry Reese, I try to replicate that in some way this year with the addition of a mid-round back and an UDFA type back. In 2011, Eli Manning threw for 1597 more yards than in 2007, while Jacobs and Bradshaw both battled injuries that season, getting healthy just in time for the Super Bowl run.
Thankfully for the Giants, last year was the year of the wide receiver and this year, it’s the running backs and boy, did they hit on their choice at receiver last year. Like I said previously, I think that the Giants should draft a back between the third and the sixth rounds. Some of the potential RBs that might be available in these rounds, that I could see fitting into the Giants offense, are:
- TJ Yeldon, Alabama; (Projected Round: 1-3)
- Duke Johnson, Miami; (1-3)
- Jay Ajayi, Boise State; (2-3)
- Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen, USC; (2-4)
- Mike Davis, South Carolina; (2-3)
- Josh Robinson, Mississippi State; (3-4)
- David Johnson, Northern Iowa; (4-6)
- Storm Woods, Oregon State (4-6)
In my opinion, I’d take whoever was available between TJ Yeldon, Jay Ajayi or Duke Johnson, in that order (but with Yeldon and Ajayi neck-and-neck), in the early third round. If they were not available, I’d look for Josh Robinson in the fifth or David Johnson in the 5th or 6th.
Those are the five running backs that I could envision doing really well in this Giants offense, but I also wanted to take note of the others in the list above because the Giants scouts might decide they like them better or they’ll find more value drafting them where they think they’re projected. When it comes down to it, the people involved in these organizations have much more information at their fingertips than we do, so who knows what they think.
For different reasons, Marshawn Lynch and Lacy are such unique runners that no one in the NFL comes close to their styles, but I’ve fallen in love with Ajayi’s tape over the last few weeks because of how much he reminds me of Lacy. So while I would take Yeldon over him, I don’t think Yeldon will be there in the third round, especially because I think Yeldon was the most talented runner in college this year. I know he had a down year statistically, but I’ve been in awe with the smoothness with which he runs since his freshman year and he has the attributes to make it in the NFL.
I do think that Ajayi could be available in the third round, so I hope that’s the direction the Giants go in, but his draft stock keeps rising. Considering the depth of this years class, I really couldn’t predict how the top running backs will end up being drafted.
If Ajayi isn’t there, Duke Johnson is definitely a viable option. With 2073 total yards from scrimmage, Johnson had a huge year for the Hurricanes. From a value standpoint, if Josh Robinson is there in the fifth round, he’d be a nice option.
Robinson is another guy whose running style is unlike anyone else’s, which is part of what makes guys like him Lynch and Lacy so hard to take down, they’re powerful backs and defenders aren’t used to playing anyone like them. As powerful as he is, and as low to the ground as he is at 5’9”, 215, along with the adversity he’s overcome to get to where he is today, I have a feeling that he’ll have a successful career.
The fifth draft option I see for them is David Johnson in the fifth or sixth round. During his four year career at Northern Iowa, he rushed for 4682 yards at 5.4 per rush and had 141 catches for 1734 with 63 offensive touchdowns. He returned 12 kickoffs this year and averaged 36.5 yards per and even got himself a touchdown.
At 6’3”, 225 he brings some versatility that the Giants could benefit from without depth at tight end. NFL Draft Scout even has his second position listed as FB/H-Back and that kind of versatility and the confusion that could be created by him just being in the huddle could bring another dimension to the Giants offense.
I also want to construct a backfield with the depth of what the Giants had in 2007, so I would pick up an undrafted free agent as well, much like they drafted Bradshaw in the 7th in 2007. With the amount of injuries at running back, you could end up starting a guy you picked up after the draft like the Chargers did this year with Brandon Oliver whose performance kept them in the playoff hunt when Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown all went down.
I have two players from the Colonial Athletic Association who I think could be great investments for the Giants in Lyle McCombs from Rhode Island and Kevin Monangai from Villanova. (Having played in the CAA, I’ll admit that I’m a little biased as I have a huge affinity towards players from my conference because I know how much talent is in the CAA.)
As things are projected now, they’re both projected to be undrafted free agents, but neither of them are lacking in talent or ability. They also fit into the smaller, pass-catching pass role that Ahmad Bradshaw (5’11”, 195) had with the Giants in years past. McCombs is 5’8”, 175 and Monangai is 5’8”, 215.
McCombs was a freshman All-American at UConn before going to URI for his senior year. His season was broken up into two three game chunks by a broken hand suffered in practice, but he came back with a vengeance in November with an offensive line that had come together a little bit over the course of the season.
Against the #1 team in the country, New Hampshire, McCombs averaged 8.2 yards per carry while running for 115 and two touchdowns. He ran for over 180 in the first half against Stony Brook before they just stuffed the box and dared the Rams to pass in the second half, which they couldn’t. McCombs added a fantastic one handed grab on a swing pass that showed his natural pass catching skills as well. He’s currently 5’8”, 175 and will be a high-value running back option for whoever drafts him or signs him after the draft.
Kevin Monangai has been a three-year starter at a great Villanova program, but has flown under the radar a little bit because of the Walter Payton Award winning quarterback he plays with, John Robertson. Since his sophomore year, Monangai has rushed for 2991 yards on 564 carries for a 5.3 per carry average and 28 rushing touchdowns. While Monangai’s only had 33 catches for 250 yards over the past three years, the Villanova offense has never been big on passing to the running back as they always have a quarterbacks who can take off and run shown by Robertson gaining 1272 yards this season and 1562 in 2013. Due to the archaic way that college football counts sacks against a quarterback’s rushing total, Robertson’s net rushing yards the last two seasons is 2483 with an insane 31 touchdowns.
I know that whichever team gets Monangai will be getting a steal whose perception has been hampered by the success of his quarterback running the ball, which takes nothing away from him. With two 1000 yard rushers in the backfield this season, Monangai and Robertson combined for one of the best zone read pairings in all of college football, so much so that Robertson is ranked as a top-10 quarterback in next year’s class.
Monangai is benching 400 pounds, squatting 700 pounds and running in the 4.5s, at a squat 5’8”, 215, he’s able to get lower than the defender and power through him, but also fast enough to beat him outside. He reminds me of another Villanova graduate: Brian Westbrook.
I want the Giants backfield to resemble a bit of what they had in 2007 when they won the Super Bowl. Remember, Ahmad Bradshaw came on late in the season with a 151 yard game against the Bills in Week 15, then contributed in the playoffs with 52 yards per game in their Super Bowl run. Remember, Derrick Ward got injured and didn’t play again after Week 12 in Chicago, so the Giants needed him to carry some of the load and he did it very well.
Many of the best organizations in the NFL have taken to the strategy of drafting their two current or future lead running backs in consecutive years, like the Seahawks have prepared for the likely departure of Marshawn Lynch with Robert Turbin and Christine Michael. The Bengals have a balanced backfield with two long-term solutions in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard.
I also feel that this strategy mitigates risk, if one of your RBs gets a career altering injury or is a bust, you have another young back to fall back on. The Dolphins are glad they drafted Lamar Miller out of The U in the 4th round the year after they took Daniel Thomas out of Kansas State in the 2nd round of 2011.
I think the Giants should draft Jay Ajayi in the 3rd round, I don’t think Yeldon will be available there, but Ajayi’s similarities to Lacy get me excited about the possibilities for him in this offense. The Giants should sign another back after the draft and being FCS level guys, McCombs and Monangai will probably be available and will prove to be very valuable assets. I do think that the Giants keep Orleans Darkwa as I’ve heard a lot of positive things about him, but I think Michael Cox could be moving on.
At around $6.8 million when you add in another million to resign Henry Hynoski, that will probably put the Giants below the league average spending at the RB position for 2015. With the amount of production I think they’ll get out of this group, they’d be getting major bang for their buck and their running game could help balance the offense and give them a bit of what they need to win another Super Bowl. And the Giants are due, they win Super Bowls every 4 years. 2007…2011…2015?
Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think! Tweet me @ZackMooreNFL
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This offseason, I’m going to go through the Giants salary cap and discuss what they should do to prepare for the 2015 season. I think this will be a great teaching tool for myself to learn more about the salary cap and to engage with you guys on some of the lessons to learn in the cap.
I’m also going to discuss an ongoing experiment I’m doing where I look at the percentage teams spend on each position and try to find a correlation between spending and performance on the field. Of course, with injuries, these numbers can sometimes go out of whack and you’ll also see what a bad contract can do to a team’s salary cap.
For example, it’s becoming increasingly important to spend your money on defensive ends, but when a team like the Buccaneers go out and give Gerald McCoy, a defensive tackle, a contract that’s bigger than Ndamukong Suh’s, then you put yourself in a tough situation with the cap. As good a player as McCoy is, he can’t provide the kind of performance that warrants the Bucs spending 16% of their salary cap on him in 2014. As good as he is, is he more valuable than basically every quarterback in the NFL? And, because of McCoy’s contract, the Bucs used 29.7% of their cap on the defensive line in 2014.
Another example of this is the Jaguars who had five defensive linemen making over $4 million in 2014, Roy Miller made $3 and Andre Branch made another $1.4 million. Due to spending on the defensive line, they only spent 6% of their cap on defensive backs. At a time where 12-win teams are spending 18% of their cap on DBs and the average team is spending 14.3%, it’s clear that the Jaguars are taking an unbalanced approach.
These are the some of the questions I hope to raise in the coming months as I try to dissect the Giants cap situation. I look forward to it and I hope you do too.
Attached at the bottom of this article are the Excel sheets I will be referencing throughout this offseason that look at positional spending for Offense, Defense, the Giants, and will break down spending on 4-3 and 3-4 defenses.
In the next few weeks, I will also break spending on the offensive and defensive lines as well as linebackers into each position.
Now, I’ll get into some of the information we need to look at regarding the New York Giants as they head into the 2015 offseason.
Main Free Agents:
- Henry Hynoski, FB
- Jerrel Jernigan, WR
- Larry Donnell, TE
- Daniel Fells, TE
- James Brewer, OG
- John Jerry, OG
- Adam Snyder, OG
- Dallas Reynolds, OG
- Mike Patterson, DT
- Jason Pierre-Paul, DE
- Mark Herzlich, OLB
- Spencer Paysinger, OLB
- Jacquian Williams, OLB
- Walter Thurmond, CB
- Zack Bowman, CB
- Chykie Brown, CB
- Stevie Brown, FS
- Quintin Demps, FS
- Antrel Rolle, SS
Giants that were on the on the IR this year:
I think that this is something we should keep in mind because of all the talent they had injured this year. Due to this, so much of what we have in our minds for what the Giants need to do might already be on their roster, but were just injured.
- David Wilson, RB (retired)
- Michael Cox, RB
- Peyton Hillis, RB
- Victor Cruz, WR
- Jerrel Jernigan, WR
- Marcus Harris, WR
- Geoff Schwartz, OG
- James Brewer, OG
- Robert Ayers, DE
- Mathias Kiwanuka, DE
- Jon Beason, MLB
- Jacquian Williams, OLB
- Prince Amukamara, CB
- Walter Thurmond, CB
- Trumaine McBride, CB
- Bennett Jackson, CB
- Cooper Taylor, FS
Without looking too closely at the cap, that’s something we’ll do later, I want to share some of my thoughts on what I think the Giants could use heading into 2015. The excitement Odell Beckham Jr. created will carry the Giants and fans into this offseason feeling much better than we all felt in October. With all the injuries they’ve had these last two years, Tom Coughlin and the crew have a lot to be proud of. I know the average fan is upset about two disappointing seasons in a row, but what are the Giants supposed to do when they lead the league in games missed by starters two years in a row?
Something worth noting is that GM Jerry Reese told reporters at his year-end press conference that they’re not going to go out and spend a bunch of money in free agency like last offseason when they spent $116.3 million.
This year, the Giants would have had a great draft class this year just with Odell Beckham, but they got three guys who look like they’ll be long-time contributors in Weston Richburg, Andre Williams and Devon Kennard.
As seen above, the Giants have almost $32.6 million in expiring contracts, but they’ll still have to restructure contracts heading into 2015 as they have $119.9 million of the $140 million expected cap already locked into current players. To make the moves the Giants will want to make in free agency and the draft, they’ll need to restructure contracts like Eli Manning who will be a $20.4 million cap hit in 2015, which is the last year of his contract. Some of the larger contracts that the Giants could get creative with are those of Victor Cruz, Will Beatty, and Mathias Kiwanuka, but the one that would make the biggest impact would be Eli Manning’s contract.
Manning had his best statistical season since 2011 with 4,410 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions, a far cry from the 27 he threw last year and a number that could improve with another year in this system. It’s especially impressive that he played this way due to the amount of injuries around him this year.
Manning will be 34 next season, but with the talent at the wide receiver position, talent that’s locked into contracts for the next three or four years, I see no reason why the Giants shouldn’t resign him to a new four or five year deal. For Manning, it makes sense for him to try to work out another long term deal this year as well because of the good season he had, rather than gambling on himself next season, which he’ll be 35 at the end of.
With that said, below are the positions that the Giants need help at, in my upcoming pieces, I’ll break down what I think they should do at each position whether it’s through the draft or free agency.
- Pass rusher (DE or OLB)
Again, moving forward, I’ll break down what I think the Giants should do at each position and below are the Excel sheets that I’ll be referencing moving forward. Save them for yourself so that you can come up with your own theories regarding salary cap spending for the NFL or for your favorite team.
Click on the images to enlarge them:
Figure 1: 2014 End of Season Offensive Positional Spending
Figure 2: 2014 End of Season Defensive Positional Spending
Figure 3: 2014 End of Season Defensive Positional Spending (with Base Defenses)
Figure 4: 2015 Giants Salary Cap Against League Averages
Add Jon Beason to the list of players who will finish the season on Injured Reserve. Beason’s whose career has been derailed by injuries since 2011, was traded to the Giants in 2013 and made it through the season healthy. He was one of the best players on their defense and because of that received a new 3 year contract from the team in the offseason.
There is always a risk when you sign an often injured player and there is a question as to whether or not this injury likely spells the end of his Giants career. The Giants tried as best as possible to minimize some of that risk by using a number of per game active roster bonuses in his contract.
Since Beason will land on IR after just 7 games, he will lose $450,000 in potential salary this year. The Giants should receive a $400,000 credit for Beasons lost bonus money that will go towards next years salary cap or be an offset for paying off other incentives earned by others.
Beason has $1.2 million in roster bonuses next season which will now count for $525,000 against the 2015 salary cap. That should leave Beason with an offseason cap charge of $6.69 million with the potential to earn $5.9 million in salary. Those numbers are probably enough to consider parting ways.
$900,000 of Beason’s $3.6 million 2015 salary is guaranteed, but that would likely be offset if he continues to play football and signs with another team. The Giants paid Beason a $4.4 million signing bonus this year so his total dead money charge would be $3.83 million. That would amount to a cap space increase of about $2.85 million.
The Giants should have over $20 million in cap space next year assuming a $140 million cap which puts them in the middle of the pack with the NFL, so its not crucial to create cap space. but they do have contract decisions to be made on Antrel Rolle and Jason Pierre Paul. Beason has an offseason roster bonus due the 5th day of the 2015 League Year so any decisions or contract restructures will need to be made before that.
Today’s best and worst entry features the New York Giants
Best Contract: Walter Thurmond
For the most part picking through the Giants best contracts comes down to identifying short term deals that seem like good values. Many of their longer term contracts are heavier on bonus money and/or guarantees that lead to a much more player friendly rather than team friendly structure. Of the better contracts on their books I liked Walter Thurmond’s contract as much as anyone’s on the team. I see the Giants as a team somewhat at the crossroads where their long term prospects are tied to how Eli Manning looks in 2014. If Manning looks good the Giants have as good a chance at winning the NFC East as anyone and most likely he will be the face of the Giants for another four years. If he looks bad the Giants will probably need to reboot their team.
Thurmond fits in with both scenarios. He is a high upside player that has the potential to lock down one of the cornerback positions and be a major asset in a playoff run. If the team falters, it’s just a one year contract with no long term implications, something that is an issue with most of the Giants more recent signings.
Thurmond’s contract carries a base value of $3 million which is very reasonable for a player who could prove to be a solid number two cornerback. Because it is a one year contract and the player is hoping to hit it big in free agency the team knows they will get the best out of the player. Nothing prevents the Giants from re-signing Thurmond in the event things go well and the Giants have shown a willingness to do just that, as seen by the contract signed with Jon Beason.
There is really no downside to this contract. It is low cost and low risk and fits the team situation perfectly. If things go as expected Thurmond will likely get a nice raise next season when he signs a multi year contract extension and the Giants will benefit from a low cost year for a starting player. It’ a win-win contract for both sides.
Worst Contract: Will Beatty
If ever there was a team that deserved co-winners for worst contract it would be the Giants. I really have a hard time determining which move was worse for the team: the over-reaching on Will Beatty or the front ended contract given to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The DRC signing was one of the worst contracts of the 2014 offseason while Beatty had an entire year of regression that made him look like one of the most overpaid players in the NFL. I really could go either way but in this case I’ll select the player that has played in Giant blue rather than the player who has yet to do so.
Teams should always be cautiously optimistic when a player turns around what looks to be a middle of the road career. Beatty, a 2nd round draft pick in 2009, was a slow to develop player. In 2009 and 2010 he was mainly a special teams player and an extra lineman, starting just 6 games over the two year period. He grabbed the starting job in 2011 where he cemented himself as potential starting player and then played extremely well in his walk year. The Giants completely bought in at that point.
Beatty became the standard bearer for the non-elite tier of tackles in the NFL, being given a $7.5 million a year contract with essentially $19 million in full guarantees. The Giants gave Beatty a great deal of job security through a large $12.5 million signing bonus. Among veteran left tackles on long term deals, the percentage of contract guaranteed is first in the NFL and the full guarantee trails only Duane Brown and Branden Albert. Albert was signed a year after Beatty.
The contract structure was designed to be similar to the deal signed by Brown in 2012, if Brown’s contract was viewed as a completely new contract rather than an extension. A big difference is that Brown receiving such a structure did not hurt the Texans as badly since Houston had a year already on his contract to work with. Beatty’s contract will still contain $5 million of dead money in the 4th year of his contract compared to just $2.5 million for Brown.
Arguably the only comparable player with a worse structured contract is Sam Baker’s in Atlanta. If Beatty fails this year the Giants will take on over $8 million in cap charges if they release him in 2015. He also has a $650,000 guarantee so the Giants would need to pay him a token amount to go away. If that happens the Giants will have paid $19 million for a two year contract, which is a very high figure. They need him to last at least three seasons to justify the contract and based on what we have seen that may not be that easy.
2013’s Best and Worst Giants Contracts:
2013 Best Contract: Justin Tuck (Contract expired; signed with Raiders)
2013 Worst Contract: Corey Webster (Contract voided)