Who can the New York Giants part ways with in order to better their salary cap situation heading into the 2021 campaign?
The Giants front office needs to keep caution while making every decision this offseason — this includes ones that are financial.
With upcoming moves needing to be made regarding the draft and free agency, the organization must keep the salary cap in mind. The Giants currently possess a little over $8 million in cap space amid the pandemic-impacted offseason, according to Spotrac.
General manager Dave Gettleman has said you should save around $8-10 million for in-season emergencies, so having established that, which players could the Giants part ways with in hopes of improving their cap situation ahead of the new season?
OT Nate Solder
- 2021 Cap Hit: $16.5 million
- 2021 Dead Cap: $10.5 million ($6 million difference)
Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns (a very respectable move) but struggled mightily in 2018 and 2019. According to Pro Football Focus, Solder allowed 11 sacks during the latter season, which was third-most among the offensive tackles measured.
Not to mention, Solder is only getting older, now entering his age-33 season.
The Giants could also be set with either tackle position for the time being. New York is banking on the further development of 2020 first-round pick Andrew Thomas and Cameron Fleming may return on another short-term deal. Matthew Peart will hopefully improve in his second season as well.
With all that said, Solder’s time in East Rutherford could potentially be coming to a conclusion.
OG Kevin Zeitler
- 2021 Cap Hit: $14.5 million
- 2021 Dead Cap: $2.5 million ($12 million difference)
Cutting Kevin Zeitler could be a tougher decision than cutting Solder based on the former’s on-field performances. He was the most experienced and best offensive lineman the team employed this past year and an integral part of the unit’s overall improvement throughout the season.
However, he’s another one who’s increasing in age; Zeitler is entering his age-31 season. With the Giants possessing the opportunity to roll the dice with Shane Lemieux and Will Hernandez (both cheaper options) and additionally draft someone in the middle rounds to perform in a reserve role, saving $12 million may be the move to make.
WR Golden Tate
- 2021 Cap Hit: $10.9 million
- 2021 Dead Cap: $4.7 million ($6.2 million difference)
This may be the easiest cap-related decision the Giants need to make.
On the field, Golden Tate has portrayed unproductivity and recorded his lowest receptions-per-game rate (2.9) and yards-per-game rate (32.3) since 2011 this past year. He’s also missed nine games in two seasons (four of which were due to a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs) and will be 33 years old in August.
Tate hasn’t exactly been controversy-free off the field either. From the aforementioned suspension, the feud with Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, to the “throw me the damn ball” fiasco, the veteran wideout has been a headache for the organization.
With the Giants potentially drafting a wide receiver and/or bringing one in via the free agent market, Big Blue should just save the $6.2 million and part ways with Tate. This decision doesn’t need to be a strenuous one whatsoever.
TE Levine Toilolo
- 2021 Cap Hit: $3.0 million
- 2021 Dead Cap: $0 ($3.0 million difference)
Levine Toilolo, who’s entering the latter season of his two-year contract, is definitely a replaceable blocking tight end.
Every dollar counts, especially in a pandemic-impacted offseason, and the $3 million saved by cutting him could help in a number of ways.
C Spencer Pulley
- 2021 Cap Hit: $2.7 million
- 2021 Dead Cap: $0 ($2.7 million difference)
The Giants aren’t paying Spencer Pulley a highly significant amount at all, but the cap space given up is honestly too much for his role. He’s a replaceable backup who’s been inconsistent when on the field, something that didn’t occur at all in 2020. It hardly even occurred in 2019 — Pulley appeared in just four games for a total of 95 offensive snaps that season.
There are other ways to utilize $2.7 million in cap space that would be more beneficial for the organization as a whole.
LB David Mayo
- 2021 Cap Hit: $2.3 million
- 2021 Dead Cap: $0 ($2.3 million difference)
There are alternative linebacking options currently on the roster more useful than David Mayo, who didn’t possess a concrete role within Patrick Graham’s defense in 2020. After starting 13 games under former Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher in 2019, Mayo was on the field for 50% or more of the defensive snaps in just two games last season. In four separate matchups, Mayo saw his defensive snap count total finish in the single digits.
Amid Graham seemingly preferring other individuals like Tae Crowder, Cam Brown, Carter Coughlin, and certainly Blake Martinez (the team’s top inside linebacker), cutting Mayo (and saving around $2.3 million) wouldn’t be that big of a deal.