New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman was busy at work again on Monday as he signed free agents Cody Latimer, Josh Mauro, B.W. Webb, and re-signed Kerry Wynn.
The signing of Cody Latimer is an intriguing one. Most people figured the Giants didn’t need to acquire any more wide receivers since their roster currently consists of Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall, Roger Lewis and Dwayne Harris.
But then when you factor in that the Giants have just under $6 million in cap space left after their free agency frenzy, and the versatility Latimer brings as a receiver and a valuable special teams player, it all makes sense.
Latimer has struggled with injuries during his four seasons in the NFL, missing a total of 19 games. For his career, he has just 35 receptions for 445 yards and three touchdowns.
But he did post career-highs last season with 19 receptions for 287 yards and two touchdowns despite playing with subpar quarterbacks in Denver.
But what Latimer is best known for is his special teams play as a gunner and kickoff returner. Last season he averaged 23.75 yards per kickoff return, which is more than the 20.88 yards Harris averaged for the Giants prior to fracturing his foot in Week 5.
Latimer is five years younger than Harris, so you have to wonder if the Giants got Latimer because they intend to cut Harris in order to clear cap space.
Harris’ cap number for 2018 is $4.05 million and if the Giants cut him, they would only incur a dead cap hit of $1.6 million. It doesn’t make sense to have two similar players on your roster when you can cut the older player and gain valuable cap space. So don’t be surprised if the Giants part ways with Harris.
Another player who could be on his way out due to Latimer’s arrival is Brandon Marshall. Ironically, we just did a piece on if Marshall is in the Giants plans for 2018 after having a dismal 2017 season where he was unproductive and, just like Harris, was lost for the season in Week 5.
Marshall, who turns 34 on March 23, is entering the final year of his two-year contract and is set to make $6,156,250 this season. The Giants would only incur a $1 million dead cap hit if they cut him.
Despite being nine years older, Marshall is a vastly more talented receiver than Latimer. But with the Giants already having a stacked receiving corps, Marshall is not a luxury the Giants need. At best, he would be the Giants’ fourth receiving option for Eli Manning behind OBJ, Shepard, and tight end Evan Engram, who the Giants sometimes split out as a wide receiver.
So Latimer would be a better fit as a complimentary or backup receiver than Marshall, especially considering the Giants can clear over $5 million in cap space by cutting Marshall.
The Giants may still sign more free agents, and they’ll also have to sign their eventual draft picks. So it could be only a matter of time before the Giants part ways with Marshall and Harris because of the acquisition of Latimer.