NFL training camps are still at least another couple of weeks away from opening, but ideas and speculation continue to fill in the downtime until the sound of pads crashing into each other fills the air.
ESPN writer Mike Clay recently suggested an interesting trade scenario for the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins.
Clay's suggestion has New York sending receiver Darius Slayton to Miami in exchange for running back Myles Gaskin in a straight-up deal.
Slayton ($2.598 million) and Gaskins ($2.54 million) are a wash in salary cap space wise, so there would be no financial advantage to the Giants in making this trade.
It’s also worth noting that both players are in the final year of their respective deals, and both are thought to be on the bubble with their respective teams. If we’re talking about a straight-up trade, it's easy to see why a one-year rental probably makes sense for both teams.
But let's go a little deeper.
First, let’s look at the backup options behind Saquon Barkley. The top guy is Matt Breida, who has 2,281 rushing yards on 466 carries and seven touchdowns. As a receiver, he has 83 receptions for 729 yards and six receiving touchdowns over his career.
Behind Breida, who’s signed to a one-year deal, the Giants have former Bills runner Antonio Williams, Gary Brightwell, Sandro Platzgummer, and undrafted rookie free agent Jashuan Corbin.
That group of players has combined for 13 NFL carries and two targets, with 13 of those 15 opportunities coming from Williams in a single 2020 game with the Bills.
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Gaskins’ production alone would be appealing. In three seasons, he has 1,329 yards on 351 carries (3.8 average) and seven touchdowns, and 97 career receptions for 673 yards and six receiving touchdowns. That’s not bad production.
But in terms of the financials, remember that when a trade is made, unless the players involve agree to a restructure before the deal is consummated, that means the acquiring team is getting the contract as is minus any remaining prorated signing bonus.
In other words, Gaskins’ $2.5 million cap hit for a guy who projects to be third on the depth chart is as foolish as potentially carrying Slayton, who if Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard, and Wan’Dale Robinson are all heathy, as their No. 5 receiver.
The Giants, remember, trimmed Devontae Booker in a salary-cap-related move earlier this season, a move that saved New York $3.125 million in cap space. Gaskins, who is in the final year of his contract, would count for $2.5 million, roughly a $625,000 difference between what it would have cost to carry Booker and what it would cost to carry Gaskins.
For a guy who would potentially be third on the depth chart—we’re not so sure the Giants will dump Breida given his familiarity with head coach Brian Daboll’s offense—that’s just too much of a luxury for the Giants to carry.
The logic behind adding another running back makes some sense. Barkley, unfortunately, has an injury history, and if he goes down again, the Giants lose a huge part of their planned offense.
Breida has also had a few recent injuries, and as noted, the current crop of running backs outside of Barkley and Breida lack experience and production.
If the Giants were interested in adding another running back, it would be smarter for them to wait for players to clear waivers, allowing them to add guys at their price rather than at a price that wouldn't make sense for their current cap-strapped situation.
What about the Giants cutting Breida in favor of Gaskins, you ask? Breida, a change-of-pace back, has a 4.9 yards per carry average over five NFL seasons but has only carried the ball 85 times over the last two seasons due in part to injuries (ankle in 2019 and hamstring in 2020).
If he can stay healthy and do what the Giants need him to do behind Barkley at a cap cost of $1.047 million, in what universe does it make sense to add Gaskins for over twice that amount via a trade?