kevin zeitler giants
Courtesy Twitter: @PFF

Kevin Zeitler’s time with the Giants has concluded. The organization has officially cut him ahead of the 2021 season.

In a move that some expected, the Giants have released starting right guard Kevin Zeitler. The organization announced the news via its official Twitter account Wednesday afternoon.

It was likely a tough decision to make. While Zeitler had been the team’s top offensive lineman since the Giants traded for him prior to the 2019 season, he possessed an expensive contract. The final year of his deal (2021) was to carry a cap hit of $14.5 million — taking on that type of hit would’ve been financially unideal for the organization.

The Giants still need to pay a $2.5 million dead cap charge.

The only options to lessen his 2021 cap hit were to restructure his contract or request that Zeitler take a pay cut. The former route would’ve led to the Giants extending his current deal and back-loading it. On the other hand, Zeitler may not have approved of the latter route.

It’s unclear what’s next for the veteran, but his Giants tenure ultimately ends after 31 games (all starts) in blue. It’s also unknown who Zeitler’s replacement might be. The leading candidate could be Will Hernandez, but the young interior offensive lineman struggled last season en route to losing his starting job to then-rookie Shane Lemieux.

Maybe the Giants bring someone in via free agency to compete for a starting guard role.

This is not the first of the organization’s cap casualties this offseason, and it certainly may not be the “grand finale” of them either. Last week, the Giants cut wide receiver Golden Tate and inside linebacker David Mayo (saved over $6.1 million and $2.3 million, respectively). Tate was simply too much of a headache off the field and his on-field production didn’t make up for it. Mayo, on the other hand, didn’t possess a concrete role within Patrick Graham’s defense.

With Zeitler gone, there’s the significant possibility the Giants subsequently cut veteran offensive tackle Nate Solder, who carries cap hits of $16.5 million and $18 million over the next two years, respectively. However, releasing him would cause the Giants to pay $10.5 million in dead cap this coming season — it’s another cost-cutting effort the organization could make to help gain space in hopes of signing Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson to long-term deals.

According to OverTheCap, the Giants own a little over $3 million in available cap space — more moves must be made if they’re going to want to keep the pair of aforementioned defensive linemen for years to come.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.