A Deeper Look at ESPN's 'Top 5' Things the Giants Need to Do. Part 1: Free Up Additional Cap Space
At any moment now, we should begin to see what Giants general manager Dave Gettleman is planning to do to improve an underachieving roster that finished 4-12 last year.
ESPN's Bill Barnwell outlined his five steps for the Giants off-season: (1) freeing additional cap room, (2) franchise tag defensive tackle Leonard Williams, (3) add a significant edge rusher, (4) solve the right tackle problem and (5) fix the defensive secondary.
While all of these are steps that need to be taken, some of Barnwell's logic is worth diving into more given the layers involved.
So let's kick it off with his first suggestion: free up additional cap room.
Barnwell immediately identifies linebackers Alec Ogletree and Kareem Martin as potential cap cuts, two moves that are probably on everyone's list and which are no brainers given they'd yield just north of $13 million.
Barnwell also mentions tight end Rhett Ellison, a player who, while on a lot of people's cap cut list, might end up surviving if he takes a pay cut instead.
While Barnwell is likely correct in predicting Ellison would drop to the third tight end on the depth chart--and there is no way he should be paid like the No. 1 tight end--given Evan Engram is recovering from foot surgery he had in December, trying to get Ellison's cap number lower might make more sense.
That's not to suggest the Giants restructure Ellison. Restructuring contracts is a dangerous game, especially if after this year, the salary cap drops in the first year of the new CBA as it did with this CBA.
The point is you don't want to push money off into the future unless you have to--and in Ellison's case, the Giants don't have to.
Here's the twist regarding tight end. Barnwell mentions a possible Jason Witten signing by the Giants, something his colleague Chris Mortensen initially reported last month.
If the Giants want to swap out Ellison for Witten, who of course has ties to offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, that move could make sense financially assuming a one-year deal for Witten wouldn't be too much more than the one-year, $4.25 million deal he signed with the Cowboys last year.
But if Engram is ready to go, the Giants might prefer a duo of Engram and Kaden Smith, both of whom are still on rookie contracts, which would leave no room for Witten.
So this will be something worth keeping an eye on as at this point in his career, Witten, who is still a very good player despite his best years being behind him, would likely be a cheaper upgrade over Ellison.
Check out the video below for two additional Giants players who could be cap cuts that Barnwell didn't mention.