Giants Restructure Contracts of G Snee and P Weatherford


I had discussed yesterday how the Giants were the final team left that was required to make salary cap related moves to become cap compliant and now we have the details of what the team did.

The Giants once again went to their “go to guy” when it comes to contract restructures in G Chris Snee, whose restructuring of his contract is almost an annual ritual. Snee reduced his base salary for 2013 by $2. 5 million, the difference of which will be prorated over the remaining two years of the contract. This created $1.25 million in cap room for the Giants.

The second move the team made was restructuring P Steve Weatherfords contract. Again this was a minimal reshuffling of money to just give the Giants whatever minimal room they required to comply with the salary cap in 2013. The Giants converted $900,000 of Weatherford’s salary into a bonus that will be prorated over the remainder of the contract. The Giants gained $675,000 in cap room with the move. Weatherford’s cap charge will rise by $225,000 in each remaining season he is with the Giants.

View Chris Snee’s Salary Cap and Contract Page

View Steve Weatherford’s Salary Cap and Contract Page

View Steve Weatherford’s Interactive Cap Chart


Camp Position Battles: David Wilson vs. Andre Brown



2013 Cap Hit – Wilson: $1,519,205; Brown: $2,023,000

Amount Remaining on Salary – Wilson: $6,684,502 ($5,382,979 guaranteed); Brown: $2,023,000 ($0 guaranteed)

The salaries for the New York Giants’ top two running backs subtly represent the different areas they are in their respective careers. Wilson, 22, is entering the second year of his 4-year rookie deal. Brown, 26, has been through multiple teams’ training camps before finding a nice role with the Giants.

This is less of a position battle because both guys will see plenty of action on the field this season (For what it’s worth, both will be drafted before Round 10 in fantasy leagues this year.) What makes this situation interesting, however, is Coach Tom Coughlin’s relationship with running backs in general. Coughlin (generally) doesn’t care about a contract or what the front office’s expectations for a particular player are.  If Wilson’s fumbling problems resurface or he struggles to find holes in opposing defensive lines, the percentage of carries will tilt in Brown’s favor. If Wilson can show a little more of the electricity on display during his time at Virginia Tech and holds on to the ball, Coughlin will (perhaps begrudgingly) reward him with the ball.

The majority of the carries could prove to be great experience for Wilson, who figures to be on the roster until at least 2015. Brown could be gone next summer (and should he have a productive season, likely will be gone). But if the coaching staff believes Brown will give the Giants a better shot to win, he will see much more than his current third-down back role with the team.

Look for Wilson to have a bigger role early, but for Coughlin to lose trust at the season goes along. Brown was clearly a player that Coughlin enjoyed utilizing in different sets and situations before he went down with injury last season. Luckily for the Giants, I am not the coach. If it were up to me, I would be sending Henry Hynoski up the gut with the ball on downs one to three.

Andre Brown #35 RB, New York Giants


Andre Brown #35 RB, New York Giants


And here we go.  David Wilson is an explosive back with the upside of a high end RB1 in the NFL.  Although Tom Coughlin could give any General a run for their money on the topic of discipline, Wilson’s ability alone made his absence in the backfield a mystery.  Everyone (and I mean everyone) claim it is a product of his early fumble and subsequent drop of a Manning pass.  The drop I can understand, but I find it hard to believe that the coaching staff thinks that Wilson is a fumbler.  Guys with fumblitis do not get granted Kick Returner status.

The reason that Wilson will not get the time on the field that his ability dictates, is because he is terrible in Pass Pro.  Pass Pro are the schemes that offenses use to protect the QB on pass plays.  Along with scheme, a player must have the ability to block the defender that he is assigned.  Take it from a former RB, the great college and NFL backs make this look astoundingly easier than it is on the field.  First a read must be made at the line by eight different guys.  These reads are then communicated among the offensive personnel (ever play telephone as a kid?) including the RB who is usually 7-8 yards deep in the formation. Imagine being that far away and trying to keep up with the communication, all along not tipping any information to the defense.  Granted on obvious passing downs this isn’t an issue, but watch how many times there is a missed assignment on non-obvious passing downs. We have heard all spring into the summer how the Giants feel that Wilson has improved on his Pass Pro.  Considering yesterday’s report, I find it hard to believe that the Giants truly feel this way.

This brings us to Andre Brown, a man who has bounced around a bit since being drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 NFL Draft.  He signed his 1 year, $2 million tender in March which makes him an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.  He is a devastating runner.  One that can wear down a defense when given a healthy dose of him.  He makes you think of a UPS truck when he is running which is why the slogan “What can Brown do for you?” follows him.  It will be extremely interesting to see him when he is called upon in this hot hand setup.  Brown is the orphan, while Wilson is the crowned prince.  Disney usually makes Brown the victor in these battles.  I believe this real life battle will go the same.

Estimated New Contract: New York Giants 2 years, $6 million

Contract Year Series, Hakeem Nicks


Hakeem Nicks #88 WR, New York Giants

by Paul Carrozzo

When analyzing contract possibilities, we must remember that there is an ultimate bottom line to war that is waged between the player and the franchise that presently employs him. The franchise stands to benefit from the player’s heightened urgency through increased production on the field that given year. The player’s motivations are aligned with the organization as a good year means a bigger payday. Many times we see a team over pay for past performances similar to Joe Flacco’s blockbuster deal signed after he brought the Ravens a Super Bowl. “Past performance is no guarantee of future results” is the disclaimer on almost every investment prospectus. You would think that the men that own $1B+ franchises would be well versed in the concept and hence heed the warning. Or maybe the exact reason they are billionaires is because they have thrown caution to the wind in prior endeavors.

Hakeem Nicks came to the Giants as the 29th pick of the 2009 draft. The 6’1″ 210 lbs Nicks plays bigger than his frame would suggest. He has been a target of criticism for is inability to stay on the field, but can be dominant when in games. The Giants recently committed $46mm to another of their receivers, Victor Cruz, which will only increase the scrutiny from the New York media. Rueben Randle is an electrifying deep threat that will also be pushing Nicks for targets. When healthy, Giants quarterback, Eli Manning, likes to exploit the mismatches that Nicks creates on the outside.

Competing for WR free agent money in the offseason will be Kenny Britt of the Tennessee Titans and Jeremy Maclin of the Philadelphia Eagles. If Nicks can put up a full season of solid production I can see him in the getting paid as a Top 10 WR. If the Giants choose to franchise him after the season, he will cost $11mm for one year. Even if he has a terrible season, given his age and talent, he will command a minimum of $6mm APY.

Estimated New Contract: 5 years, $47.5mm

Is Victor Cruz Underpaid?


Yesterday WR Victor Cruz did an interview in which he said he felt as if he was underpaid and insinuated that the only reason he accepted the deal to stay with the Giants was to stay close to home. So let’s examine the situation a bit more in depth.

Now I think most people would agree that Cruz handled his negotiations poorly. He made his desire to stay in NY well known which immediately gave the Giants even more leverage, something that they already had an abundance of because of Cruz’ status as a Restricted Free Agent. He switched agents during the process somehow getting mixed up somewhat in the whole Jay Z mix, which only led to him reiterating he did not want to leave NY. In doing so went from being the biggest priority for a small firm to just one of many names in a large firm.  He signed his RFA tender, a move some (not all) would have advised against, rather than threatening a holdout. At the end of the day many sources claimed that Cruz ended up signing the same deal the Giants had on the table for him the year before.

That being said, I can understand Cruz’ statements and part of the problem can be the management of expectations by advisors around him. When you look at the salary scales and see players like Mike Wallace earning $12 million a season you have to wonder why you are only making $8.6 million a season. Cruz’ problems, beyond what was outlined above, are that he is primarily a slot receiver and that he is an incredibly specialized slot receiver at that.

Slot receivers are paid far less than players on the outside. That’s just the way the game works. Comparing Cruz to Wallace is essentially the same as comparing Jimmy Graham to Wallace. The position is valued differently, because of expectations and difficulty in finding players to play the two receiving roles. Now the Seahawks burst the market for a player who most would typecast a slot receiver in Percy Harvin. While some may argue Harvin can do more than just catch, it’s really just an outlier of a contract.  The real market is much lower than Harvin.

There is no escaping the slot stigma for Cruz. There were only 21 players last season that had at least 300 routes of which at least 50% of them came in the slot. Cruz was one of them with about 70% of his routes coming in the slot. When lining up outside, Cruz numbers dramatically fell. As a slot target Cruz’ YPC average was 15. On the outside the YPC fell to 8. Cruz could argue that his numbers were better the year before but the counter from any team would be that nobody was prepared for Cruz and 2012 represents a more realistic performance. His only way to prove otherwise was to play the year out, which he was unwilling to do.

As a slot performer there were few more productive. On a yards per route basis only Randall Cobb of the Packers was slightly better. Cruz was 12% more productive than Wes Welker, third among slot players, and far more productive than anyone else at the position. He battled some drop problems but so did Welker and Cobb, so it’s not like Cruz was that terrible in that regard, something people make him out to be. I think it would be fair to say that based on two years of play none are better in the league who play in the slot. However, he is still just a slot receiver.

A difficulty for Cruz is that his skills are unique, something not that uncommon to the position. A player like Welker is typecast because he is short and plays in an offense with a superbly accurate QB that looked his way far more often than most would due to the lack of outside threats. Interest in Welker outside of New England was lukewarm. Cruz is just as specialized, simply in a different way.

Cruz plays with a QB who is going to the Hall of Fame and likes to throw the football down the field. Eli Manning is not the most accurate of players and meshes perfectly with Cruz who is not the most accurate of route runners. They work in an offense that is designed with that in mind and takes their fair share of chances with the football. Cruz isn’t going to fit in an offense with Christian Ponder or Alex Smith playing QB. He might not even fit with Tom Brady at this stage of Brady’s career.

Just as how Welker had problems, Cruz might have had similar ones in free agency. You need a stronger arm QB, an offense not afraid to let him use it, and an offense that doesn’t typecast its players, i.e. slot is a possession only receiver. Off the top of my head I would view the Colts, Ravens,  49’ers, Saints, and Cowboys as teams that would do that. Neither Dallas nor New Orleans have money to spend nor spots to fill. The Ravens would be hard pressed for cash as well so it’s a limited market. I’m sure some other teams would get in the mix too, but he likely isn’t a plug in anywhere player.

Cruz, at $8.6 million a year, is the highest paid slot receiver in the NFL. Miles Austin might be considered a slot player now (about 70% of his routes come from the slot, the same as Cruz last year) and makes $9 million a year, but when signed he was considered an outside threat. Cruz will earn about 18.5% more on an annual basis than Marques Colston of the Saints and 43% more than Welker.  While those players are both older than Cruz, who will be 28 when his extension years kick in (Colston was 29 during his season of signing and Welker will be 32 in his), Cruz’ deal is worth more money than both and Colston in particular has shown the ability to play a bit more on the outside as well.

The other players who fit into the slot category with Cruz simply don’t make that much money. Cobb will see a payday soon, but guys like Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne are at the end of their careers while names like Jeremy Kerley, Davone Bess, Emmanuel Sanders, etc… are all on low cost deals and none of whom will break the bank when they hit free agency (Bess already signed for under $3 million a year).

Maybe Cruz is a victim of circumstance and will prove he can do more than what he has been asked to do so far. If that is the case I think he will have a strong argument that he is underpaid. But for the player that he is now and job he is asked to do he is very close to the right number. If he and his team had been a little more difficult on the Giants he probably could have pushed beyond $9 million a season, but even then it’s not the mega dollars that it sounds like Cruz feels he should have gotten.    All told Cruz is pretty much right at what the market would be expected to pay for his services.



Best & Worst Contracts: The New York Giants


A few weeks ago Jason LaCanfora published a list of best and worst contracts in the NFL so I thought it might make a good idea for us to do the same here at OTC, with a team by team approach. I’ll try to be a bit more analytical in terms of why money was paid and how it fits in the market, but the general premise is the same. The one key difference is outside of restructured rookie contracts under the old CBA we will only use veteran contracts as there is a big difference between best draft picks and best contracts.  Please note that there is a difference between a bad player and a bad contract when discussing some of the selections. Clicking on a players name will take you to his salary cap page.

Justin TuckBest Contract: Justin Tuck

I had a very difficult time coming up with this decision. The Giants rework contracts so often that sometimes the deals get so bad at the backend that a good deal kind of goes bad. I considered Chris Snee, who has been a relative bargain at Guard for many years, but yearly restructures have left the Giants with a bad 2013 and 2014 cap scenario with Snee. Cullen Jenkins is a pretty good deal for a one year flier on a player that can provide an interior pass rush and I could see putting him in this position, but Tucks’ is a bigger contract and stands out from all the others with regards to contract treatment.

While Tuck struggled to make an impact last season and is looked at negatively right now with his $6.15 million dollar cap charge, that is simply a Giants decision to allow him to play things out at that figure. The Giants had structured his deal so that he would only carry a $1.5 million dollar cap hit if released this year. They never jumped back in on him to raise that charge when restructuring every other player around him, even as he came off a Pro Bowl in 2010. Normally the low dead money is the kind of leverage that would lead to a paycut if the team chose to use their leverage that way.

From an annual value perspective Tuck’s $6.2 million per year number is a tremendous bargain at the position. As a key backup in the Giants 2007 season in which he produced 10 sacks, the Giants pounced on the opportunity to re-sign Tuck, who they knew would likely be a starter in 2008, during their Super Bowl run. Tuck had one year remaining on his rookie contract, slated to pay him just $520,000, which the Giants used to help negotiate favorable terms. Usually a 10 sack season leads to big contracts or at least big deals with numerous incentives, neither of which was the case with Tuck, whose contract contained modest escalators on the backend for Pro Bowls and sacks, of which just $1 million were earned.

Over the life of the contract Tuck made two Pro Bowls and had two 10+ sack seasons. The decision to extend a year early allowed the Giants to smooth out the cap hits to their advantage. Tuck never had a cap charge over $7.65 million and most years his cap charge was around $5 million. Most importantly they never made the deal worse, which they did with many other deals. Philosophically this may be part of the Giants internal visions, locking up pass rushers young and continuing to draft them so they can move on as the age and health becomes more of a concern. Regardless of the reasoning the Giants got a great deal with Tuck and if they choose to part ways this summer they will create $4.5 million in cap room with no further damage in 2014.

Corey WebsterWorst Contract: Corey Webster

While Webster did take a paycut this year to remain a Giant, even the paycut just added to the poor extension they signed Webster to back in 2008. Webster, who had never been selected to a Pro Bowl, was signed to a 5 year extension worth $8.7 million a year, at the time one of the most expensive deals at the position. His $29.5 million three year payout was close to the top of the NFL corner market and Webster was never anywhere near that level of player. Since then Webster has been an ok starter until seemingly coming apart at the seams last season.

The Giants made the backend of Webster’s deal more difficult to work with by converting $3.6 million of salary in 2009 and $3 million in salary in 2011 to prorated bonuses to help their salary cap situation. As a result of the contract structure, which already paid Webster a $5.25 million dollar signing bonus, his cap charges in 2012 and 2013 were over $9 million a year and his dead money in the final year of a 5 year deal totaled $2.59 million.

The Giants would go on to make a curious decision to keep Webster in the fold in 2013 by reducing his $7 million dollar cash salary to $4.25 million, with $2.5 million fully guaranteed. Webster will still carry a cap charge over $5 million on the season, a number the Giants kept artificially low by getting into the void year contract structure that has compromised teams such as their rivals the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants have started to dip their toe into this contract structure with some lower tier talent due to salary cap problems and need to be careful to not extend the concept much further. As a result Webster, who ranked 111th in coverage by Pro Football Focus in 2012, will leave the Giants with $1.25 million in dead money next season when his contract voids.

Check out Our Other Best & Worst Contract Articles

AFC East: Buffalo BillsMiami DolphinsNew England PatriotsNew York Jets

AFC North: Baltimore RavensCincinnati BengalsCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers

AFC South: Houston TexansIndianapolis ColtsJacksonville JaguarsTennessee Titans

AFC West: Denver BroncosKansas City ChiefsOakland RaidersSan Diego Chargers

NFC East: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles (July 14)


Update on Corey Webster’s Restructure – Giants Tack on Voidable Season


The other day, I wrote an article on the moves the Giants made with Corey Webster and David Baas (that article can be found by clicking here). For those who don’t want to revisit the whole story, this was the portion written about Webster:

“First, let’s take a look at Webster. 2013 will be the final season of a five-year extension he signed with the Giants in December 2008. His base salary was originally set at $7 million for this season while various other bonuses brought his cap hit to $9.845 million. All Webster agreed to do here was reduce his base salary to $4 million; there’s no real restructure, only a reduction in money for Webster. No additional cap hits come into play for the Giants and as a result, Webster’s 2013 cap hit is now a more reasonable $6.845 million. If for whatever reason the Giants turn around and decide to release Webster, his release would result in a net cap savings of $4.25 million (the only portion of Webster’s contract that’s guaranteed to be on the cap is hit is his $2.595 million in bonuses). Webster didn’t have much negotiating room to do anything other than take this pay cut; he graded out 110th out of 113 qualifiers in ProFootballFocus’ 2012 cornerback rankings. Even with his reduction in salary, Webster still has the 5th highest cap hit on the Giants this year as of now. He would have had the 3rd-highest on the team, behind only Eli Manning and Chris Snee, had he not agreed to this reduction.”

According to a ProFootballTalk post last night, this wasn’t exactly the case with Webster’s deal. Per Mike Florio, Webster’s $7 million base salary and $250,000 workout bonus became a $1.25 million base salary, $2.5 million signing bonus, while the workout bonus remains the same. To help out with the cap this year, the Giants added a voidable season in 2014 to the contract, thus pushing $1.25 of that $2.5 million signing bonus to this voidable year due to the proration. Let’s take a look at what the Giants’ cap hit would look like in both 2013 and 2014 had the deal been as reported earlier, and as it’s being reported now:

Updated cap hits without voidable year:

2013: $6.845 million ($4 million base salary + $2.595 million prorated from various signing bonuses + $250,000 workout bonus)

2014: $0

Updated cap hits with voidable year:

2013: $5,345,000 ($1.25 million base salary +  $2.595 million prorated from various signing bonuses + $1.25 million prorated from new signing bonus + $250,000 workout bonus)

2014 (voidable year): $2,250,000 ($1 million base salary + $1.25 million prorated from new signing bonus)

As Jason wrote the other day here, voidable seasons are often extremely easy to achieve and are done simply to lower cap costs now, which also happens to increase dead money costs down the line. As a result of this restructure, the Giants now save $4.5 mill in cap space for 2013 (they would have saved $3 million in 2013 had the deal been as reported on Thursday). Instead, this voidable year in 2014 creates $1.25 million of dead money on the Giants salary cap in 2014. The 2014 figures would be a great contract for the Giants if, of course, the year wasn’t voidable and Webster was actually going to play for the team on a $2.250 million cap hit. Instead, dead money gets pushed forward a year on the Giants’ cap. As mentioned in Jason’s article I referenced above, adding voidable seasons to create a bit of extra space now while pushing dead money forward in the future just isn’t a sound practice, but Webster’s deal is far from the most egregious example of that.