The Giants are about to cut a 28-year-old Pro Bowl cornerback because they’re saddled with a touchdown-less wide receiver and an overrated defensive tackle.
That is the reality of the James Bradberry situation. General manager Joe Schoen tried to trade him, but no one is trading for a player they know is going to be released. They waited the Giants out, and now time is up. Schoen desperately needs the $10 million in cap space to sign his draft class and set up a rainy day fund, so he has to cut the corner.
But really, Dave Gettleman is cutting Bradberry. Here’s why:
Kenny Golladay. Golladay’s production isn’t meeting his salary, nor even coming close to it. A $72 million contract over four years (a higher annual value than guys like Mike Evans and Cooper Kupp) led to zero touchdowns in 2021.
And the worst part about it: the Giants are stuck. Due to Golladay’s proneness to injury (three missed games last year and 11 the year before) and future cap hits (over $21 million each of the next three years), he won’t have a widespread trade market. The Giants would save $6.7 million by cutting Golladay after 2022 but would incur a $14.7 million dead cap charge.
The earliest the Giants could part ways with their top wideout might be after the 2023 season. They’d save $14.6 million in space and only incur a $6.8 million dead cap charge by doing so.
Leonard Williams. This signing was not as bad as Golladay. But in hindsight, William’s big 2020 was likely an outlier for him.
He’s proven to be a pass-rushing weapon and not just a standard run-stopper. But he has cap hits of $27.3 million and $26.3 million over the next two years, respectively. His average annual salary is the second-highest among interior defensive linemen. Aaron Donald — one of the best at his position of all time — is only making $1.5 million more per year.
The good news: The Giants can realistically move on from Williams after this season and save $18 million in cap space. But his cumbersome deal contributes to the trickle-down effect that will send Bradberry packing in the coming days.
Final thoughts. There was never going to be a massive trade market for Bradberry. And with numerous cornerback-needy teams having made moves in free agency and the draft, that market has further diminished. The Giants wouldn’t have acquired a significant return and would’ve likely needed to pay a portion of his 2022 salary.
A release is the only remaining option. That will save the team a little over $10.1 million in cap space ($11.7 million dead cap).
But the Giants will eventually need to rid themselves of these Gettleman overpays if the results don’t meet the salaries. Golladay at $18 million per year? Williams at $21 million per year? Those aren’t the types of financial anchors rebuilding franchises can afford.