Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Giants will need to make more room under the salary cap by tomorrow at 4 pm ET

Before I explain what needs to be done, let me display the cap numbers for all 53 players on the roster:

Here are players 52-53:

  • The total for the Top 51 cap numbers, as indicated above, is $111,375,308.
  • The total for the Top 53 cap numbers is $112,196,782.

Teams are operating under the Top 51 Rule until tomorrow at 11:59 pm ET. At midnight ET on Thursday, September 5th, regular season Salary Cap Rules will be in effect. Regular season cap rules will include the following cap expenses besides those which are already in effect that include a team's top 51 cap numbers:
  • The entire 53-man roster will count on the cap instead of just the to 51 cap numbers.
    • at minimum this will take up an extra $810,000 in cap room.
  • The Practice Squad will count.
    • at minimum this will count an extra $816,000.
  • Players on the Reserve/PUP List
    • Markus Kuhn's 2013 cap number is $491,474.
    • He very likely has a salary split though which reduces his cap hit $177,000 down to $314,474.
  • Players on Injured Reserve.
    • The Giants have two right now: Stevie Brown (his cap number is $2,023,000) & Ramses Barden (who has a cap number of $620,000).
    • Barden is probably going to receive an injury settlement in the coming weeks though instead.
    • Right now, the total amount for the Giants is $2,643,000.
  • Players who receive Injury Settlements (see the table of Roster Designation below).



Teams will need to be cap compliant with regular season salary cap rules though by 4 pm ET tomorrow, when league business hours cease. The Giants will need to make some moves based on the numbers I have below. First here is the Salary Cap breakdown with respect to the Top 51 Rule:

Now here are the Salary Cap Calculation projections with the Regular Season Salary Cap Rules in effect:

  • As can be seen in the Regular Season Salary Cap Rule projections, the Giants are going to be over the cap if they don't make a move or two.
  • The negative figure of $1,803,236 does not include additional cap space due to Andre Brown being placed on Temporary IR; his cap number will still count in full, but another player's cap number will be added in his place, which will in turn count around $555,000 for the year.
  • If you add that to the figure then you get $2,358,236.
  • In addition to this there are the Injury Settlement amounts.
  • If you estimate each one to roughly $100,000 per player for 8 players, then you get another $800,000.
  • The overage total would then be $3,158,236.
  • If you add another $1,000,000 in emergency funds/fudge money, then that total comes out to $4,158,236.
  • This amount of $4,158,236 is pretty close to how much cap room that the Giants will need to create by no later than 4 pm tomorrow, which is roughly 24 hours from the time of this post.
  • They will have to restructure or extend the contract of a player or two in order to create this cap room, the question then inevitably becomes who can they agree to this with on the team now?

There are three prime candidates that can help the Giants out: Chris Snee, Antrel Rolle, & Eli Manning. The Giants could also turn to Justin Tuck & Steve Weatherford, but they are not as ideal. Here are the contractual breakdowns for each of these five players courtesy of the Giants' salary cap page from overthecap.com (click HERE to see the Giants' page with the list of each player's contractual breakdown ):

  • Justin Tuck is in the last year of his deal, so the Giants' only option with him would be to tack on a voidable year and create some cap room that way (they gave Osi Umenyiora this kind of deal last year, only not for the puupose of creating cap room), but then that would create Dead Money for the team on it's 2014 salary cap, so that option is not the best.
  • Steve Weatherford's contract would up to $738,750 in cap room, which wouldn't be enough for the Giants to get by. It would help, and could be a complimentary option in addition to restructuring another big money player, but is not a primary option to create the necessary $4,158,236 in cap room, although it would reduce the total to $3,419,486 making it easier to restructure the deal of a guy like Snee, Eli, or Rolle.
  • Eli Manning's contract could be restructured or extended to help this year, but it is more likely that the Giants will wait to change his contract around by extending him next year, giving the Giants the much needed room that they will need then to re-sign players like JPP, Nicks, and Joseph. I would't be surprised if they turned to Eli for help this year, but I think it's more likely they turn to Snee or Rolle.
  • Antrel Rolle is a guy who does not like to get his contract restructured; he hasn't had it changed since he has signed here a little over 3 years ago, so while he would be an ideal candidate for a restructure, it may not be the most realistic. An extension would be more possible with him, but may not be optimal due to his age. This then leaves us with one more option: Snee.
  • Chris Snee has consistently helped the Giants out in recent years when it comes to restructuring his deal. He did it last year by agreeing to having his contract restructured on September 8th, just before the Top 51 Rule ceased and the Giants' season opener against Dallas at MetLife Stadium. I think he's the logical choice to help out again this year by either agreeing to another restructure or extension.

Teams are allowed to restructure the contracts of players as many times as they like during a season. The one year rule of not changing a player's contract that people sometimes misunderstand has to do with salary increases only, as former NFL agent Joel Corry of the National Football Post wrote to me in an email. This makes Snee eligible to help the Giants out again this year.

Snee has two years left on his contract, including this season. His $6,700,000 base salary this year can be reduced to as little as $840,000. This is the veteran minimum for a player who has 9 accrued seasons, such as Snee. The difference of $5,860,000 would then be divided in two, creating $2,930,000 in added cap space. It would also increase his 2014 cap number by $2,930,000 from $9,000,000 to $11,930,000 and would also decrease his cap savings amount in 2014 by that amount from $7,000,000 to $4,070,000.

The odds are that there will be two restructures, in any of these two combinations:
  • Snee/Rolle + Weatherford/Tuck
  • Snee + Rolle

All these permutations and combinations are a moot point unless the Giants go to the Bank Eli tomorrow. They could simply restructure or extend his deal now and gain the room they need. Eli's cap number of $20,850,00 is by far the highest on the team. He has 3 years left on his deal, including this season, so there's room for them to work with if they go that route. It'll be interesting to see what happens in the 24 or hour or so in this regard. The Giants could also go back to any of the same players that they restructured during the season if they still have more cap room to work with if they need additional cap room should the need arise. One way or the other, we'll see an announcement made about what happens with regards to these possible contractual restructures by tomorrow for sure.

Salary Cap update for all 32 teams as of today (9/3/2013)

The Top 51 Rule will cease at midnight NY time on Thursday, September 5, 2013. Teams must be cap compliant with the new cap accounting rules by 4 pm NY time Wednesday, September 4, 2013 in the league office. I'll discuss what needs to specifically be done by the Giants in an article later today with respect to them dealing with their cap problems. As of today, the NFLPA Top 51 League Cap Report website has the Giants listed as being $2,891,712 under the cap. This is not an accurate figure that reflects the Giants' Top 51 cap numbers though. Often this summer, the people who update information on this website go days sometimes without updating the information correctly.

Using the Top 51 rules that are in effect now, I've got the Giants as being $3,386,452 under & Jason Fitzgerald has them listed as being $3,221,791 according to his Estimated Cap Room webpage. He and I are only separated by $164,661 though, so we're pretty much in the same ball park I think. The Giants are going to need to make more room though, since this figure will be adjusted to include a different set of rules in 3 days. These rules include the addition of the following:

  • all 53 players on the 53-man roster, instead of just the Top 51 cap numbers 
  • players on the Practice Squad
  • players on Injured Reserve
  • players who receive Injury Settlments
  • players on the PUP list

This will quickly eat into the $3.3 million dollars or so of estimated cap room that I have the Giants having, and leave them needing to make restructures that will create approximately $2.5 to $3.5 million dollars more in cap room. As I noted above, I'll discuss what they need to specifically do in order to deal with their cap problems in another post later on today.

Keep in mind that these change very frequently throughout the day, particularly for teams that are scrambling to create more cap room by 4 pm tomorrow like the Chargers, Giants, Bears, Texans, Redskins, Chiefs, and Rams. Jason Fitzgerald from OverTheCap.com wrote about this issue a few days in the article below:

Here are the cap figures for all 32 teams, first in order of most cap space to least cap space, and then in alphabetical order to help people to sort through the information in a more orderly information, if need be:

First, most cap space to least cap space as of today at this time:

Now here are the cap space figures in alphabetical order, for reference purposes:

The importance of roster flexibility with respect to the Salary Cap

This topic is often overlooked by NFL fans when it comes to the teams that they follow; however, I can assure you that it not overlooked by decision makers in NFL front offices when it comes to formulating an opening day 53-man roster. Teams often choose younger players over older players if they are in competition for a roster spot because of one simple reason: roster flexibility. Now, this flexibility can mean that a player can play Special Teams. Heck it can also mean that he can play more than 1 position. When it comes to the salary cap though it may mean that a player has a lower cap number than another player, as is often the case in the league today. A line of demarcation does exist between these "younger" and "older" players, just as there exists a barrier between freshwater & saltwater.

Here are some important points:

  • Players who have less than 4 accrued seasons who are on opening day 53-man rosters do not have guaranteed contracts for the year (other than their bonus money, which gets accelerated onto the cap if they are let go).
  • In contrast, players who have 4 or more accrues seasons who are on an opening day 53-man roster have their contracts guaranteed for the entire year.
  • The case of the former offers a team roster flexibility with respect to having the ability to make more in-season moves, which as logic would dictate often involve other players with less than 4 accrued years.
  • This is why veteran with 4 or more accrued years who are still free agents often go unsigned until week 2.
  • Any player, regardless of how many accrued seasons he has, only counts on a per week basis against the cap if he signs with a team from week 2 and on.

Now, with this knowledge in mind, the question then arises: what constitutes an accrued season? An accrued season is defined in the current CBA as follows:

The link to the CBA is as follows:

What does this mean in layman's terms? An accrued season roughly equates to a player being on a team's 53-man roster or being on Injured Reserve for 6 games in a season. This may not mean a lot to players who were drafted or who are veterans/star players in the league like an Eli Manning or Justin Tuck, but it does to guys who are marginal players on the roster who are trying to earn a living. An accrued year means a hell of a lot more to young guys like Justin Trattou and Jim Cordle. It gets them a year closer to a pension and free agency for a chance at a big contract, which most players do not get to see since the average NFL career is rather short, as discussed in this article below from a couple of year ago:


In addition to this, here is a table listing the 26 players currently on the Giants' 53-man roster whose contracts--specifically meaning their Paragraph 5 base salaries--are not guaranteed for the year even if they are on the opening night 53-man roster in Dallas in 6 nights (the remaining 27 players on the roster have their full salaries guaranteed for the season if they are released because they have 4 or more accrued years [I'll leave out Termination Pay for now]).

P.S. I'll write about Termination Pay in another post, but I'm leaving it for now since it may confuse people. It's enough to keep in mind that players who have 4 or more accrued seasons are eligible for it, with there being two kinds: one for players who are on the opening day 53-man roster, and those who are signed in-season after the first game. Here is an excellent article by Jason Fitzgerald of overthecap.com explaining how it works:

The six players who names are highlighted in the table above in orange are players who have less than 4 accrued years who I've identified as being "fungible commodities"---a big word meaning mutually interchangeable goods. While I personally hate to refer to fellow human beings as objects, front office personnel in the NFL are forced to see them as just that. These 6 players, who I'll list below are candidates to be booted off of the roster in case the team is forced to take drastic measures over the course of a 17 week season that could possibly arise as the result of injuries that result in an emergency or other necessary roster moves such as the return of players off of an injury list or suspension.

  1. Trumaine McBride
  2. Curtis Painter - His roster/cap versatility was a factor into his replacing David Carr
  3. Jim Cordle
  4. *Bear Pascoe - $65,000 (accelerate into 2013 if cut)
  5. *Jerrel Jernigan - $287,626 (half accelerates into 2013 if cut, & half into 2014)
  6. *Da'Rel Scott$27,976 (half accelerates into 2013 if cut, & half into 2014)

*Contractual information courtesy of overthecap.com - New York Giants 2013 Salary Cap

None of these 6 players have guaranteed contracts, save for any Dead Money (if applicable). If the Giants were forced to have to make room on the roster for an extra player, these 6 aforementioned non-Practice Squad eligible players who have less than 4 accrued seasons under their belts would be good candidates to be waived since doing so would have no impact on the cap whatsoever save for the weeks they already played---McBride, Painter, and Cordle fit into this category. All three of these players have no dead money impact whatsoever on the Giants' salary cap if they were to be let go.

The contracts of Pascoe, Jernigan, and Scott would impact the Giants' salary cap with respect to their Dead Money totals, but very minimally so (see the amounts above, or click the links under each player's name to see the exact details). They would be okay to cut, but out of the 6, the troika of McBride, Painter, and Cordle give the Giants the best opportunity to prevent their salary cap from being impacted by any oncoming storms of roster moves that may be necessitated over the course a long NFL season.

An example that comes to mind is the eventual week 5 return of Safety Will Hill (whose contract does not count against the Giants' salary cap until he returns). Considering the fact that the Giant are only carrying 3 safeties instead of their usual amount of 4, it makes perfect sense for them to waive their 6th CB, Trumaine McBride in order to make room on the team for Hill without negatively impacting the salary cap. This may also come into play later on in the season when DT Markus Kuhn can potentially rejoin the active 53-man roster off of the PUP list in the second half of the season.

Roster flexibility is important with respect to which players teams can possibly re-sign if they are let go (ergo waived), and add to their practice squads. As of now, the Giants have 9 Practice Squad eligible players on their 53-man roster. They are as follows:
  1. OT, Justin Pugh
  2. DT, Johnathan Hankins
  3. OG, Brandon Mosley - 1 accrued season
  4. DE, Damontre Moore
  5. QB, Ryan Nassib
  6. DE, Justin Trattou
  7. FS, Cooper Taylor
  8. RB, Michael Cox
  9. TE, Larry Donnell

Now out of these 9 players, the only one with an accrued season is Brandon Mosley. The rest are rookies except for Larry Donnell. He spent all of last season on the Giants' Practice Squad after being an undrafted free agent in 2012. The rest are all drafted rookies from this past April's draft. The only 4 out of this bunch who could stand any kind of chance of possibly clearing waivers without getting claimed even if the odds are small are the following:
  • Cooper Taylor
  • Larry Donnell
  • **Justin Trattou
  • **Brandon Mosley

The other 5 players are (Pugh, Hankins, Moore, Nassib, & Cox) are going to have important roles on the 2013 Giants, and stand zero chance of being let go in case of some kind of roster emergency. If other teams saw them on the waiver wire, they'd claim them before they took their next breath. What Taylor, Donnell, Mosley, & Trattou offer (Mosley and Trattou lose this P.S. eligibility towards the second half of the season though) is a chance to let go of a player if they need to and then add them to their Practice Squad after they clear waivers. The odds are questionable to unlikely that they clear waivers, but there's at least some kind of realistic chance that they would, as opposed to the other 5 from this group of 9 players that are Practice Squad eligible. As small as that would be, it's still a factor to consider when a team puts it's roster together.

To summarize, ten players offer the Giants roster flexibility with respect to the salary cap. They are as follows:
  1. Trumaine McBride
  2. Curtis Painter
  3. Jim Cordle
  4. Bear Pascoe
  5. Jerrel Jernigan
  6. Da'Rel Scott
  7. Cooper Taylor - even though he was drafted this year in the 5th round, he's still raw
  8. Larry Donnell
  9. Justin Trattou
  10. Brandon Mosley

Out of this group the following are optimal with regard to their lack of dead money impact on the salary cap if they were to be waived:
  1. Trumaine McBride
  2. Curtis Painter
  3. Jim Cordle
  4. Larry Donnell
  5. Justin Trattou

Cooper Taylor and Brandon Mosley would have a Dead Money impact on the salary cap.
  • Taylor's Dead Money total (his signing bonus amount for when he signed his contract this past May) of $187,252 would be divided as follows:
    • If he were to be waived over the course of this season, then $46,813 would count against the salary cap in 2013, while the remaining amount of $140,439 would accelerate into the 2014 Dead Money total.
  • Mosley's Dead Money total of $225,438 would be divided as follows:
    • If he were to be waived over the course of this season, then $75,146 would count against the salary cap in 2013, while the remaining amount of $150,292 would accelerate into the 2014 Dead Money total.

Out of the grouping of McBride, Painter, Cordle, Donnell, & Trattou, the two who have some added protection are Donnell & Trattou. They both project as possible replacements for players in the roster at their respective positions this year. Donnell projects to possibly take over Bear Pascoe's roll in 2014 since Pascoe is an unrestricted free agent after the season. Trattou projects as being a depth player at DE, along the lines of Dave Tollefson, who was also a strong Special Teams contributor--just as Trattou is. The Giants may not elect to re-sign Justin Tuck next year, and if they don't, they'd be thinner at the position than usual. JPP will also be a free agent, so Trattou will function as a serviceable cheap and young insurance policy in 2014, essentially providing them depth as the 3rd or 4th DE next year (he's the 5th DE this year).

As a result, the 3 players who offer the most roster flexibility to the Giants this year are Trumaine McBride, Curtis Painter, & Jim Cordle. Painter's job seems to be safest of these three due to the fact that Ryan Nassib is so green. McBride & Cordle, on the other hand, are not so fortunate. Cordle is safe momentarily due to the fact that starting Center David Baas is going to miss about a month to start the season due to a sprained MCL, but if he doesn't show anything during his window to play---which has already been somewhat compromised due to the coaching staff bypassing him to be the starter in the regular season opener in Dallas after giving him an opportunity in the preseason with the starting Offensive Line---he'll be VERY vulnerable to possibly getting the boot off of the roster, especially with their being 2 Offensive Lineman in the Practice Squad itching to get his roster spot in Stephen Goodin and Eric Herman (particularly Goodin).

The most vulnerable player to being waived on the roster now in my opinion is Trumaine McBride. If I had to bet, assuming there aren't any crazy unforeseen injuries, he'd be my bet to get waived after week 4 in anticipation of the week 5 of Free Safety Will Hill. As I stated previously, it makes perfect sense for the Giants to waive their 6th CB (a position where they usually keep 5) to make room for a player who would help fortify the Safety position that is understaffed depth-wise at the moment, with only 3 being on the roster now (Antrel Rolle, Ryan Mundy, and Cooper Taylor). If the Giants can avoid injuries at the position until week 4, as well as hold injures at CB, then McBride seems like the logical choice to help the Giants flexibility-wise with respect to the salary cap. Waving him will not create any Dead Money at all on the cap, and will create a less strenuous set of choices for the Giants' decision makers to choose from when they inevitably look to remove a player from the roster that will help them from incurring a large amount of money against the salary cap.

As a reminder, Termination Pay is not a factor for any player who has less than 4 accrued seasons. McBride, Painter, Cordle, Donnell, & Trattou are all ineligible for Termination Pay since they all have less than 4 accrued seasons (see the link to the article on this subject posted above).

In the end, vulnerability and flexibility function as a parallel binary: vulnerability from the point of view of the player, and flexibility from the point of view of the team. For all the time and planning front office personnel and decision makers put into figuring out which players on their 53-man roster offers their team the most flexibility, teams and players are ultimately at the mercy of the circumstances that they are faced with.

An injury can function to force a team's hand into letting go a player they'd rather avoid letting go, but at the same time it could also save a player's job who is on the verge of being let go. Da'Rel Scott knows all too well about that since his job was saved in the last preseason game in New England a few days ago when Andre Brown went down with a broken leg. This injury along with Scott's solid performance in limited opportunities was enough for him to skate by another week onto the Giants' 53-man roster this past weekend. How long he stays there however is another matter entirely. 

Ironically (and much to their detriment), the players that offer a team the most flexibility with respect to the salary cap are simultaneously the most vulnerable to it's ravages. A paradox to some extent? Maybe. This much is for certain though: the NFL is a train that keeps moving, leaving many players behind with their bags in their hands as it leaves the train depot. It's piranha-like nature can be best described in the the immortal words of Jerry Glanville who quite famously & exclamatorily stated that the N.F.L. stands for "Not For Long" while berating a sideline official back in 1989 or 1990 (click on the YouTube link at the bottom of the article for a brief clip of that famous exchange). To many players, this carries added meaning, particularly for the ten or so players at the back end of every NFL team's roster.