Joe Schoen giants salary cap
Vincent Carchietta | USA TODAY Sports

OTAs, training camp, and preseason are all in the books. We’re just days away from the Giants and Cowboys facing off at MetLife Stadium on Sunday Night Football. The sole focus for Big Blue is to protect their house against an NFC East foe. While Brian Daboll and Co. deal with that, general manager Joe Schoen has other things on his mind.

You know, like creating salary cap space to give New York more financial flexibility.

How much wiggle room do the Giants have ahead of Week 1? Not much, according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic. He discussed the predicament Schoen is currently dealing with earlier this week on X:

Have spent a lot of time learning about the salary cap, so I try to pass along what I can. I think the “top 51” rule is one of the biggest things that’s not generally understood. In the offseason, only the top 51 cap hits count on the cap.

But now, every contract counts. So that’s players 52 and 53 on the active roster, the entire 16-man practice squad and every player on a reserve list (IR/PUP/NFI).

To illustrate how that changes the cap outlook, the Giants had $11.1M in cap space yesterday under the top 51 accounting. They’re down to $1.4M today with every contract counting ($1.5M for players 52 and 53, $4.2M for the practice squad and $4.1M on reserve lists).

What’s this all mean? $1.4M won’t be enough space to get through the season with more players inevitably going on IR, practice squad elevations, etc. So the Giants will need to make another move(s) to create cap space before the end of the season.

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So, in case you were wondering why the Giants already restructured part of quarterback Daniel Jones’ deal, this is the reason. New York recently turned $8.42 million of Jones’ base salary into a signing bonus. That created $6.315 million in cap space.

More moves obviously need to happen. What could the Giants do? Someone asked Duggan in the replies. He said another “big restructure” probably isn’t in the cards. However, he also mentioned Leonard Williams and Adoree’ Jackson as two potential candidates.

So, we’ll see what else Joe Schoen has up his sleeve to alleviate this situation for the Giants.

You can reach Matt Musico at You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.