It’s a business. Financial decisions will have to be made this offseason by the New York Giants as they try to keep together and improve the group that won 11 games and reached the postseason for the first time in five years.
There are always tough decisions. Last year the Giants cut offensive linemen Geoff Schwartz and Will Beatty and restructured the deal of wide receiver Victor Cruz. These were financially-driven moves made several days after the Super Bowl.
It’s one of the first steps in building the roster for the following season, so it’s where we start in our offseason look at potential Giants moves. Before free agency and extending contracts of some of their own players, the Giants will sever ties with several others.
These are the players still under contract for at least next season whom the Giants will have to make decisions on this offseason:
WR Victor Cruz (signed through 2018)
2017 salary: $7.5 million
2017 cap number: $9.4 million
Cap savings if cut: $7.5 million
Analysis: The Giants and Cruz restructured his deal last season knowing they would likely be back in this spot one year later. Cruz, 30, isn’t going to be kept at these numbers. The Giants have to decide if they even want him to return at all after 39 catches for 586 yards and a touchdown in his first season back after missing almost two full years. A decision will have to be made by March 11, when he is due a $1 million roster bonus.
CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (signed through 2018)
2017 salary: $7 million
2017 cap number: $9 million
Cap savings if cut: $5 million
Analysis: Rodgers-Cromartie is a good player. His value was evident when he left the Giants’ playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers picked on his replacements in the slot. But Rodgers-Cromartie is an expensive third cornerback who doesn’t necessarily fit the style (physical, press-man coverage at the line of scrimmage) that Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo wants to play. Rodgers-Cromartie should have value on the trade market, should they feel the need to create money for others. Some concessions are going to have to be made on defense with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and linebacker Keenan Robinson all free agents.
RB Shane Vereen (signed through 2017)
2017 salary: $3.79 million
2017 cap number: $4.9 million
Cap savings if cut: $3.7 million
Analysis: Vereen tore his triceps twice and is entering the final year of a three-year contract. His unique skills and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield were missed this season. The Giants could get out of the deal if they so please and save almost $4 million. It depends on Vereen's health and the direction the Giants travel at the running back position. This would only appear to be an option if they select a back high in the draft or surprisingly sign a top free agent at the position. A decision will be made by March 13, when Vereen is due a $500,000 roster bonus.
LB J.T. Thomas (signed through 2017)
2017 salary: $3 million
2017 cap number: $4 million
Cap savings if cut: $4 million
Analysis: This might be the most clear-cut move of them all. Thomas was signed as a free agent in the 2015 offseason. The move hasn’t panned out. He has missed 20 of 33 games the past two seasons, including all but one this year after tearing knee ligaments. He’s expected to be released.
RB Rashad Jennings (signed through 2017)
2017 salary: $2.5 million
2017 cap number: $3 million
Cap savings if cut: $3 million
Analysis: Again, the Giants will have to choose a path at running back. Jennings didn’t have the season he desired and will turn 32 in March. Paul Perkins started playing a bigger role as the season progressed and is a cheaper, younger option. Jennings' time with the Giants appears to be over, based on production and price.