Saturday, August 10, 2013

How does the potential presence of Terrell Thomas on the 53-man roster this season affect the Giants' salary cap?

This is an important question to ask regarding T2---a player who as of today is listed as a 4th stringer on the Giants' official depth chart (see below):

Normally, a player so low on the depth chart wouldn't have a cap number as high as T2 presently does if he makes the 53-man roster on opening day ($1,450,000). T2 is an interesting case though. He was arguably an elite DB, and the best CB on the team, when he got injured in a preseason game against Chicago 2 years ago in the Meadowlands (click HERE to read a brief article about it). The Giants had big plans for him going into what turned out to be a championship season. The next year he came back only to re-injure himself. He is now trying to become only the second player on NFL history to come back from a third ACL injury (the first being on college), with Thomas Davis of Carolina from last year being the first one to do it.

When the Giants took Thomas off of the PUP list 4 days ago (August 6th) it signaled that the Giants' medical staff feels that Thomas can now show the coaching staff what he can do in practice and during their 4 preseason games before the final cuts are made on August 31st. That gives Thomas 25 days to make what is essentially going to be his last stand as a either a Giant or a player in the NFL. This 3 and a half week long period could very well be his Thermopylae. Check out T2's contractual breakdown here (courtesy of

Interestingly, Thomas's contract includes a salary split (e.g., his $630,000 being reduced to $358,000, a savings of $272,000) in case he winds up on Injured Reserve again for the third straight year. Check out two articles on the situation below:

Here's the what would happen cap-wise for T2 under the following 3 scenarios:

  1. If T2 DOES make the Giants' final 53-man roster, then his cap number for 2013 would be $1,450,000.
  2. If T2 DOESN'T make the Giants' final 53-man roster, then his remaining dead money would count against the Giants' cap number for 2013. That amount would be $785,000. As a result, the cap savings for the Giants would be $665,000--a significant sum considering the fact that the Giants are very close to the non Top 51 cap threshold. This makes him vulnerable.
  3. If T2 winds up on INJURED RESERVE, then his salary would split. His base salary would be reduced from $630,000 to $358,000. His prorated bonus of $785,000 would still count on the cap though, as would the $35,000 workout bonus. This would bring his cap number in this scenario to a total of $1,178,000. This would save the Giants $272,000 against T2's cap number if he made the 53-man roster.

What is also significant to take note of is that as a potential 5th CB/Safety hybrid, Thomas isn't a Special Teams standout. This is where his competition (Charles James, Trumaine McBride, and Junior Mertile) have an edge on him. This is also in addition to the fact that all of these players have very low cap numbers for the 2013 season--cap numbers which are more in keeping with what a 5th CB should be making on a cap strapped team like the Giants. It must be duly noted that the Giants have worked with Thomas all this time for a reason, and that they would like to get a return on their investment. It is for this reason that one can make the argument that Thomas's spot on the roster for 2013 is there for him to take--unless another injury denies him that opportunity.

Pay attention to Thomas's playing time during preseason, and how coaches talk him up compared to the three young CBs mentioned above (James, McBride, and Mertile). In case Thomas gets hurt, then look out for which one of these 3 young Corners plays best on Special Teams during the remainder of training camp and the preseason to be the player to take Thomas's roster spot. It will certainly bare watching what happens in these next 21 days. Thomas's professional career will likely depend on it.

Suspended players don't count on the opening day 53-man roster

This happened to start the year last year with Tyler Sash when he began the season serving a 4-game suspension due to P.E.D.s ("Adderall" again).

While suspended, Hill's cap number of $480,000 won't count against the Giants' 2013 salary cap. When he's eligible to return from suspension after the 4th game, then the Giants will have to make a decision about releasing a player on the 53-man roster to make room for Hill, or to just flat out place Hill on waivers. If Hill does in fact return after 4 games, then only 13/17ths of his cap number will count on the Giants' salary cap this year. While he's suspended though, as stated above, he does not count against the Giants' cap (the Giants essentially get a cap credit).

NOTE: If teams release players with less than 4 accrued seasons at any point during the regular season, their full cap numbers will NOT count on the Giants' cap. Only the weeks that they played on the team will count (i.e., if a player with 3 accrued seasons like Tyler Sash is released from the 53-man roster to make room for Hill after the 4th game, then only 4/17ths of Sash's salary will count against the cap due to his experience--or more accurately his lack thereof).

This approach to salary cap management in these situations undoubtedly has an impact on personnel moves throughout the league. This is why younger players tend to make rosters over older players (marginal to middling players with more than 4 years of experience), so that if roster moves need to be made in-season the team can save cap room. It is for this reason that if two players of equal ability are on the table for a final discussion to make a roster--one a younger player with 2 accrued years and the other an experienced vet with 5 seasons, than the younger player will always win.

On the other hand, players who are released during the regular season with more than 4 accrued years of experience will have their full cap numbers count against their 2013 salary cap.