The Giants have until next week to decide whether to exercise the option years on the rookie contracts of tight end Evan Engram and safety Jabrill Peppers.
Should they, though? Let's break down the elements.
Regardless of how the team feels about a player, there is always a matter of cost, so we'll start there.
According to Over the Cap, the 2021 salary cap is projected to be $215 million. And as the case was this year, the Giants are in fantastic cap shape, as they're projected (as of this writing) to have $71,914,292 of space.
But as we saw this year when the Giants had upward of $70 million of cap space, that goes quickly. And unlike this year, next year, the Giants will likely have to re-do running back Saquon Barkley's rookie deal.
They'll also probably have to do something with Leonard Williams, currently on the franchise tag (regardless of whether he signs a longer-term deal as if his cap averages out to $15-$17 million per year, you can take that amount off the Giants' projected cap space.)
Lastly, if Dalvin Tomlinson continues to be int he team's plans, they'll have that contract to worry about.
Now to get back to the cost.
Engram was drafted No. 23 overall; Peppers, no. 25 overall. In calculating their fifth-year cost, per the CBA, their respective fifth-year options, "Shall equal an amount that would apply in the fourth League Year of the Rookie Contract if one calculated the Transition Tender for that League Year...using the applicable third through 25th highest Salaries."
As of right now, those numbers are estimated to be $6.013 million for Engram and $6.77 million for Peppers, according to Joel Corry of CBS Sports.
The best ability is availability, and in the case of both players, only Peppers has made it through a 16-game season (that in 2018 with the Browns).
Peppers is coming off a back fracture, and Engram is rehabbing from foot surgery. General manager Dave Gettleman admitted when he was asked about Engram that he didn't know where the tight end was in his rehab because of COVID-19 having forced businesses to close their doors since mid-March.
But for as talented as Engram is--and it's thought that he'll play a big part on Jason Garrett's offense--is he worth spending that kind of money if he can't stay on the field?
As for Peppers, who was acquired in the Odell Beckham Jr trade before Joe Judge came on board, though there is a way for both to contribute to the defensive backfield at the same time, it's also fair to wonder if the team perhaps views draft pick Xavier McKinney as a potential long-term replacement for Peppers if they move on.
We've covered cost and durability, two key factors that will be considered (along with production, if course). But one argument that hasn't been discussed yet that would favor exercising the options of Peppers and Engram has to do with the long term.
For example, Engram, it seems, has been rumored to be on the trade block each of the last two years. He's also been misused in the offense, which causes one to wonder if he were better deployed to his strengths, maybe he wouldn't take such a pounding.
As such, if Engram has a strong start to his season and stays healthy, by exercising his rookie option, the Giants, should they want to trade him, might find it easier to do so.
The same logic holds for Peppers should they want to move on from him.
Decision Day is Coming Soon
The Giants have the cap space to exercise the option years on both players. Still, it would be surprising if they do both for the reasons stated at the start of the article (Barley's forthcoming extension, Tomlinson's deal, and Williams).
A decision is due by next week.
"We’ll make the decisions this coming week," he said Saturday after the draft. "With the craziness on and off the field, so to speak over the last six weeks, we’ve had preliminary conversations. We’ll make those decisions pretty quick."