When it comes to NFL free agency, $72 million sure ain't what it used to be.
All it took was 36 hours, a handful of players, and one moderate splash into the free-agent pool, and the Giants managed to use up just about all of their available space under the $198.2 million salary cap. They began with $72.7 million in room, according to OverTheCap.com. And based on contract figures provided to SNY by multiple NFL sources, the Giants have used approximately $62.6 million so far.
That leaves them with about $10 million left to spend. And considering GM Dave Gettleman had spoken of leaving a $20 million "cushion" for draft picks, mid-season replacements and possibly in-season contract extensions, it means the Giants' foray into free agency is basically done.
Of course, NFL executives say that a team can always find cap room some place, by cutting players or restructuring contracts. The Giants could add to that by cutting veteran safety Antoine Bethea, which would add $2.75 million to their total. But they don't have a ton of flexibility at the moment, even as they continue to search for offensive line help.
So where did all their money go? The $16.1 million franchise tag for Leonard Williams took up more than 22 percent of their available cap space, which won't make that controversial midseason trade for him seem any better. The Giants could lower that hit by signing him to a long-term contract, but they haven't been close on terms, which means it won't get done in time to help them in free agency now.
Mostly, that money has been going into smartly front-loaded contracts, which makes the cap hits in 2020 a bit higher, but gives the Giants more flexibility in the future. For example, the Giants gave cornerback James Bradberry a three-year, $45 million contract with $31.8 million guaranteed, according to an NFL source. That includes a $3.9 million salary this year and a $12 million roster bonus due next week.
That makes his cap hit for 2020 a robust $15.9 million because the roster bonus counts against this year's cap. Had they made it a signing bonus instead, they could've spread that $12 million out over three seasons (for salary cap purposes). It would've made his cap hit only about $7.9 million in 2020, but added $4 million to his cap hits in 2021 and 2022.
The point is, knowing they had a lot of cap room, the Giants decided to take the hits now, so they'll have even more cap room to spend in the future. That will allow them to extend the contracts of some of their important young players, add free agents in future years, or even get out of some of these new deals if they end up going bad.
It's all a good thing, even if it meant they didn't overpay for some of the bigger names on the free-agent market. Of course, given their lessons from their spending spree in 2016, not overspending is a good thing, too.
Here's a more detailed look at where the Giants' cap space went, with information provided by various NFL sources:
- DT Leonard Williams (2020 cap hit: $16.1 million) - Received the franchise tag for one year, $16.1 million, though the Giants still hope to sign him to a long-term deal which could reduce his cap hit.
- CB James Bradberry (2020 cap hit: $15.9 million) - Agreed to a three-year, $45 million contract with $31.8 million guaranteed. He gets a $3.9 million salary in 2020 and a $12 million roster bonus next week.
- LB Blake Martinez (2020 cap hit: $14 million) - Agreed to a three-year, $30.75 million contract with $19 million guaranteed. He gets a $4 million salary in 2020 and a $10 million roster bonus next week.
- LB Kyler Fackrell (2020 cap hit: estimated $4.6 million) - Agreed to a one-year, $4.6 million contract. Full details weren't immediately available.
- LB David Mayo (2020 cap hit: $3.5 million) - Agreed to a three-year, $8.4 million contract with $3.5 million guaranteed. He gets a $1.5 million salary and a $2 million roster bonus this week.
- K Aldrick Rosas (2020 cap hit: $3.3 million) - Received a second-round, restricted free agent tender for one year, $3.3 million.
- TE Levine Toilolo (2020 cap hit: $3.25 million) - Agreed to a two-year, $6.2 million contract with $3.225 million guaranteed. He gets a $1.225 million salary in 2020 and a $2 million roster bonus next week.
- WR/ST Cody Core (2020 cap hit: $1.95 million) - Agreed to a two-year, $4 million contract with $1 million guaranteed. He gets a $950,000 salary and a $1 million roster bonus next week.