Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This is the last week that the Giants need manage their in-season salary cap with the little cap room they have

Teams tend to leave room for in-season transactions and emergency funds at the start of the regular season accounting rules the first day of the season. This year the Giants restructured the contracts of Chris Snee and Steve Weatheford to the tune of $1.25 million for the former and $675,000 for the latter respectively. That total of $1.925 million in restructures on September 4th resulted in the Giants being approximately $490,000 under the salary cap to start the 2013 season, as per OverTheCap.com, on the first day that regular season accounting rules went into effect on Thursday, September 5th.

Since then, the Giants have went on to restructure Chris Snee's contract a second time on Monday, September 30th when they were only $60,066 under the salary cap the day before that, as per the NFLPA's League Cap Report website. That was just after week 4. We are now entering the last week of the season, week 17, and the Giants are getting by with only $41,888 of free room under the cap as of today---the lowest amount in the entire NFL.

In order to avoid restructuring another deal (Snee or Weatherford again, even though Snee is on I.R.) the Giants can't place more than one player on I.R. this week. The league minimums would be prorated for this final week (1/17 multiplied by the corresponding rate). Those rates corresponding to accrued years of experience are as follows:

Here are the rates for one week of service:
  • A player with no accrued years would cost $23,824.
  • A player with 1 accrued year would cost $28,235.
  • A player with 2 accrued years would cost $32,647.
  • A player with 3 accrued years would cost $37,059.
  • A player with 4 or more accrued years would cost the same as a player with 2 accrued years ($32,647) due to the Minimum Salary Benefit (MSB) rule.

As can be seen, it is advantageous for clubs to sign players with none or just one accrued year credited towards Free Agency--being on the active roster for at least 6 games--due to the fact they're cheaper and make up the vast majority of Practice Squads throughout the league; click HERE to read about Practice Squad eligibility and what makes up an accrued season. It should be noted that a player can still maintain Practice Squad eligibility with one accrued season if he is in the 46-man active game-day roster for less than nine regular season games. They're also not vested veterans (players with 4 or more years credited towards free agency), which makes them even more desirable due to the roster flexibility that they offer. The fact that they're not termination pay eligible is also significant, especially prior to week 1.

The Giants have injuries at RB (Andre Brown & Peyton Hillis) this week, so the fact that they're depleted at that position may necessitate a player being placed on I.R. to make room for newly signed RB Kendall Gaskins being promoted from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster. This doesn't include the injuries to JPP and Victor Cruz that will keep them out of the season finale on Sunday against Washington.

The Giants would like to avoid having to I.R. more than one player this week, so as not to be forced to restructure another player contract. They have two things going in their favor. The first is that this is the last game of the season, so this one game is all that they're going to be worried about getting through, as opposed to a month or more. The second thing that they have in their favor is that the game-day Inactive list functions as a pseudo form of Injured Reserve. 7 players have to be inactive on Sundays on each 53-man roster throughout the league, so that 46 players can be active for the games.

Two of this Sunday's inactives are already certain: Cruz and JPP. The other 5 will be in flux. The Giants always leave a QB inactive too on Sundays (it might be Painter who's inactive this week instead of Nassib), so that makes three. The other 4 inactives may include a TE---one of either Adrien Robinson, who hurt his knee on the opening kickoff of this past week's game in Detroit, or Larry Donnell. They may also include LB Allen Bradford, who has been one of the usual suspects who have wound up on the inactive list many times this season. That leaves two other openings for the inactive list this week. It makes sense that one of the two other remaining inactives would be an Offensive Lineman (Brandon Mosley who broke his hand in Detroit or David Diehl w/a banged up knee if he still isn't healthy). Here is the up-to-date list of the Giants on this week's injury report courtesy of Patricia Traina:

The final inactive spot may go to either a DT, a S (Cooper Taylor was out last week with a hamstring injury), or a RB. Peyton Hillis was out last week with a concussion, and Andre Brown is still yet to be cleared for action due to the concussion he he suffered against Detroit.

The Giants only had two RBs active in last Sunday's game in Detroit, not counting FB John Conner). The final inactive spot/pseudo I.R. could go to any of these players I mentioned. What the Giants want to avoid doing is being forced into placing anyone on I.R. again, especially 2 since that would necessitate a contract restructure that would lessen their already small carryover amount of cap room into next season.

My guess is that they'll wind up placing someone on I.R. (Cruz, JPP, or A. Brown; probably Cruz), & then promote RB Kendall Gaskins (who has no accrued seasons and would cost $23,824 for a week's pay) to the 53-man roster just so that they could get through practice the rest of the week (the Giants will be working tomorrow) and then sign someone to the Practice Squad for this last week---either a RB or WR. Those 3 transactions would lower the Giants' cap number from $41,888 to $18,064. In this scenario, my guess for the Giants' 7-man Inactive list as of today for the last game of the season against Washington would be as follows (with only 1 player going on I.R.):

  • DE, JPP
  • OG, Mosley
  • RB, A. Brown
  • TE, Robinson
  • QB, Painter
  • LB, Bradford
  • S, Taylor

The Giants may go another route all together and simply get through the last few practices this week leading up to this game by leaving everything as is, but they're really banged up, so I don't know how realistic that would be. They could also I.R. a player and opt to go with only 52 players n their roster this week as well, but I doubt that happens. Any way you cut it, by this time next week we should know how much cap space that the Giants will carry over into next year's adjusted cap. Last year the Giants carried over $1,000,000 into their adjusted cap from 2012. Next year, they'll be carrying over a fraction of that. It'll be interesting to see what happens these next few days since Tuesday is tryout day in the NFL. Wednesday is the day players turn the page and begin to officially prepare for the next week's game.

If the Giants make any roster moves for this coming week's last game of the season, we're likely to find out tomorrow, until then I hope everyone enjoys the coming days off whether you celebrate or not. Happy Holidays to everyone out there...

P.S. Don't forget to rock your ugly Christmas sweaters like these guys!

Source: Giants' ugly sweater Christmas party