Could veteran guard Kevin Zeitler, the New York Giants’ best offensive lineman, be with the team for much longer?
“Cap Casualty Season” is among us.
On Wednesday, the New York Giants reportedly informed wide receiver Golden Tate and linebacker David Mayo of their releases. Cutting the former saves over $6.1 million while parting ways with the latter saves $2.3 million — not absurd amounts of money, but still important amounts when you take into account the organization’s limited cap space.
Question marks surround whether the team will do the same with veteran guard Kevin Zeitler, the team’s top offensive lineman. While talented, Zeitler is increasing in age and expensive; his 2021 cap hit is projected to be $14.5 million.
But with the lingering decision of a potential release awaiting, a trade discussion may actually be entering the conversation. According to NFL reporter Jason La Canfora, the Giants are attempting to move Zeitler, with a possible destination currently unknown.
Hearing Giants trying to move G Kevin Zeitler and Jags trying to move G Andrew Norwell but not likely, given their salary. Other teams anticipate them being released, when they would generate significant interest
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 5, 2021
The pros to keeping Zeitler?
Well, as previously mentioned, he’s the Giants’ top offensive lineman within what’s mainly a young unit. Andrew Thomas and Shane Lemieux are entering their sophomore NFL campaigns while center Nick Gates has only been a full-time starter for one season. Barring the acquisition of a veteran or the return of Nate Solder, tackle Matthew Peart may man the right side of the line in what will be his second season in 2021.
The line needs mentorship to grow and flourish; Zeitler provides that ever-crucial quality.
The Giants could actually decrease the overall per-year price of his contract if they keep him for a longer period of time. Extending his deal (which currently has one year remaining) would open the door to a possible restructure, but that means the team would need to continue paying a veteran lineman when he’s entering what will be his age-32 season in 2022.
At this moment in time, it’s unclear if Zeitler would simply take a pay cut for the upcoming season.
The pros to trading Zeitler?
Trading Zeitler would lead to the Giants paying a $2.5 million dead cap charge. Easy math: the organization would save $12 million, which they could then use to help retain defensive weapons Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson. And given he’s still portraying talent on the field, Big Blue could find a trade partner and acquire extra draft capital.
The organization is still rebuilding. Sure, an improvement was made last year, but only by a pair of victories. There are still a number of issues in and around the roster and increasing their collection of draft ammo would help the Giants address those lingering problems.
Big Blue currently owns just six draft picks. Moving Zeitler and struggling tight end Evan Engram would snag them a few more if they can find legitimate suitors.