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Why the Giants Need to Be Sellers with Trade Deadline Approaching

The NFL Trade deadline is November 2. Will the Giants be active, and if so, what could they stand to gain in terms of salary cap relief?

The New York Giants are off to their second straight 1-5 start to a season, the fourth time they've started on such a sour note in the last five years. 

Yet despite the slow start, Giants head coach Joe Judge is determined to get things turned around as soon as possible.

"This is definitely going to get better," he said Monday. "I don’t know what kind of guarantee (the fans) want, but I can assure everyone out there that’s a Giants fan and they want to know when it’s going to turn. I can tell them right now we’re working tirelessly to make sure we get this thing turned around in the right direction, not just for short-term results, but for long-term success."

While Judge's determination is admirable, with the November 2 NFL trade deadline looming, there is a possibility that with another loss this weekend, some of those players Judge might be counting on to bail the team out of its hole might not be here much longer if the Giants decide to be sellers in these final days before the trade deadline.

And make no mistake about it. The Giants should be sellers and not think twice about it if they lose to the Carolina Panthers and fall 1-6. This is a team whose cap situation is not only in a state of peril this year--per Over the Cap, the Giants have $3,886,860 in available space--but next year's cap situation looks even direr.

Based on a projected $208.2 million league-wide cap, the Giants are projected to have $2,729,725 of cap space in 2022, with just 43 players under contract. That low amount, by the way, won't even be enough to sign its currently 10-member draft class, let alone do anything in free agency.

If the season continues its downward spiral, regardless of who is in the general manager's chair next year, that person is already looking at being limited as to what he will be able to do to fix a roster that, with very few exceptions, has grossly underperformed so far.

Let's look at some prospective tradeable Giants who have bloated salary cap numbers and the impact their removal from the roster would have financially on the salary cap. 

S Jabrill Peppers

Just last year, Peppers was a player who rarely came off the field for the Giants. That, however, has not been the case this year, as second-year man Xavier McKinney has surpassed Peppers, a team captain, in snap counts per game.

Peppers is currently playing on the option year of his contract, which accounts for a $6.77 million cap hit. That's a rather hefty figure for a player who's averaging 40 defensive snaps per game.

That's also arguably a hefty number for a player that, while possessing the potential to be a solid blitzer for a team whose pass rush has been virtually non-existent all year, has had his adventures in coverage where he currently holds a 124.8 NFL rating.

The Giants currently have a stocked group at safety with Logan Ryan, McKinney, and Julian Love. Once Aaron Robinson gets off PUP and gets back into the flow, he could be a candidate for that pseudo linebacker role that Peppers appears to be an ideal fit to play.

By trading Peppers, the Giants could recoup $3.385 million on their 2021 cap and potentially come away with a Day 3 draft pick for a player who next year will not only be a free agent but will be one the Giants are unlikely to be able to afford to bring back.

TE Evan Engram

Like Peppers, tight end Evan Engram is in his option year, a contract that counts for $6.013 million against this year's cap. And like Peppers, the Giants probably won't be in a financial position next year to re-sign Engram if they wanted to.

A trade of Engram would yield slightly more than $3 million savings against the 2021 cap, not to mention it would force the Giants to get Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith more snaps.

Engram currently leads the group, having caught 14 out of 19 pass targets for 127 yards. Rudolph is right behind him, though, with eight receptions out of 13 pass targets for 79 yards.

Rudolph, whom the Giants signed to a two-year deal worth $12 million, has also been significantly underutilized in the red zone, despite his red zone prowess being a reported appeal to help the scoring struggles of the Giants. 

Rudolph has been targeted just twice in the red zone, with no receptions. (Engram has one red-zone target and no receptions, if you're wondering.)

If the Giants are looking to trade Engram, they might just be in luck as far as finding a trade partner. Bills tight end Dawson Knox suffered a broken hand in their Monday night game and their general manager Brandon Beane and Giants general manager Dave Gettleman once worked together in Carolina.  

CB James Bradberry

In a recent column, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler noted that the Giants were one of several teams that have actively monitored the cornerback market in recent months. While that could mean anything, would it make sense for the Giants to move Bradberry, currently their No. 1 cornerback?

From a cap perspective, yes. Despite agreeing to a restructured contract earlier in the year to give the team cap relief, Bradberry still has the highest cap number on the 2021 team ($10,522,222). He also has a $2 million roster bonus due next year and a whopping cap hit of $21,863,889, of which $13.4 million is his base salary alone.

Bradberry's play has fallen off from last year's Pro Bowl showing, but he's still very much a serviceable player who could probably bring a decent return in a trade as well as $12,136,111 in much-needed cap relief for 2022 (the dead money hit would be $9,727,778, for those wondering).

The only question is whether the Giants, who lost some cornerback depth when Rodarius Williams went down with a torn ACL, might be willing to make the move and finish the season with Sam Beal and/or Josh Jackson filling that spot.

What About RB Saquon Barkley?

Believe it or not, this suggestion has come up. I would be shocked to see the Giants trade Saquon Barkley this year for the simple reason that despite his salary and his string of bad luck with injuries, Barkley is a play-making talent who, when deployed correctly, can be an asset to a Daniel Jones-led offense that needs as many playmakers as it can get.

Giants team president John Mara has already expressed a desire to see Barkley remain a Giant. But let's put that aside, as Mara also once expressed a desire to see Odell Beckham Jr be a Giant for life, and we all know how that worked out.

If the season continues to spiral downward, changes are going to happen--how can they not? And if those changes were to include the offensive coordinator, would it perhaps behoove the Giants to see what Barkley can give them once he's another year removed from the ACL injury?

Even if there is no coaching change, the point is the Giants have time on their side if they want to be sure of Barkley's value to them before they invest in a mega deal.

From a financial perspective, Barkley currently has a $10,025,602 salary cap hit this year. However, that number drops to $7.217 million next year, the option year of Barkley's contract.

Sure, $7.2 million isn't exactly chump change. Still, as of right now, it would be the ninth-highest cap number for a running back next year and a digestible number to carry if the Giants hold off on extending quarterback Daniel Jones and trim some of the fat off the top of their 2022 salary cap. 

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