How the Giants Can Clear $20.8 Million of Cap Space
When teams look to trim bloated contracts off their books, they tend to look at the player’s production versus his earning. In most cases, if there is one year remaining on the deal of a player’s contract that has underperformed, it makes it easier to lop the contract off the books.
The Giants have four candidates where the potential savings would far outweigh the dead money and who could account for the $20 million that general manager Dave Gettleman mentioned in his year-end press conference that he wants to hold aside for extensions and in-season signings. Here is a look at the four candidates and the potential savings.
Alec Ogletree, ILB | $8.25 million savings, $3.5 million dead money
It’s still not known what type of defensive front new head coach Joe Judge intends to run. Regardless, it’s hard to fathom the 28-year-old Ogletree, holder of the team’s third-highest cap number for 2020, being in the team’s long-term plans.
Granted, Ogletree had an early-season injury issue that he likely tried to push his way through, but the old belief is if you’re healthy enough o be out there on the field, you better hustle and produce.
Per Pro Football Focus, some of Ogletree’s numbers –14 total pressures, 62 tackles, 3 passes defensed—were slightly better than his performance the year prior, both of which he played in 13 games.
But he also had a decrease in production in interceptions (one this year vs. five last year), while his NFL rating in coverage shot up from 84.9 a year ago to 116.2 in 20199.
Ogletree always seemed to be at his best blitzing or playing downhill ball, so again, if we’re being fair, you could point to how he was used as another reason for his play.
With that said, his $11.75 million cap hit is far too expensive of a contract to carry if he’s going to be a limited player in terms of how he can be used. Considering the promise shown by youngster Ryan Connelly, who demonstrated better instincts and feel for the game, Ogletree likely hs played his last down for the Giants.
Rhett Ellison, TE | $5 million savings, $2.188 million dead money
Ellison only made it through a 16-game season once with the Giants, that being in his first season.
He since missed eight games due to injuries, and while he never really was much of a factor as a receiver, it’s his run blocking that fell off the cliff as he didn’t create the impact he had earlier in his Giant tenure.
All the while Ellison, the No. 2 tight end on the depth chart, has been the highest-paid at the position.
Ellison is due to carry a $7.183 million cap hit in 2020, a too-high figure for a guy who is primarily a blocker and whose skill in that area has been slowly declining.
Add to that the emergence of waiver wire pickup Kaden Smith, and the decision to terminate Ellison’s contract becomes a no-brainer.
Kareem Martin, OLB | $4.8 million savings; $1.166 million dead money
The Giants never came right out and said it, but all signs pointed to the free-agent signing of outside linebacker Kareem Martin as more of a “system” signing.
A “system signing” is a guy who played previously for a coach/coordinator and who, because of his knowledge of the system that coach likes to run, is thought to be a good fit given his understanding and ability to help bring along those teammates who perhaps aren’t as well versed in a system.
If that was indeed the intention, it didn’t work, at least not on the field where it counted the most.
Behind the scenes, Martin was a tremendous asset. Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines both praised Martin for his knowledge and assistance in helping them refine their respective games, and Martin was a well-respected leader in the locker room.
But it’s on the field that counts the most, and when it came to Martin’s play, the on-field product never did match the money paid, which for 2020 is set to be $5.966 million.
It’s not all on Martin, who spent most of 2019 on injured reserve, but there wasn’t enough production, either in the stat sheet or in terms of influencing production for a teammate.
In two seasons with the Giants, the most recent one seeing him play (not start) in five games due to his injury, Martin managed 25 tackles, 2.0 sacks, and 25 stops.
In coverage, he allowed all six pass targets to be completed against him for 72 yards (12.0 yards per reception) for an NFL rating of 116.7.
That’s not enough reason to justify keeping Martin, who has the eighth-highest cap figure on the team in 2020, the final year of his contract.
Antoine Bethea, S | $2.75 million savings, $125,000 dead money
Bethea is another former Cardinal for whom one might make the argument was a “system” signing.
Like Martin, Bethea was lauded by his younger teammates for his wisdom and knowledge that he brought to the team, but the results just weren’t there.
Bethea finished with his second-worst season in coverage, recording a team-worst 133.8 NFL rating. Per Pro Football Focus, he surrendered a career-high five touchdown receptions while recording just one interception and five passes defensed.
With Julian Love having shown promise playing both safety roles, a duo of Love and Jabrill Peppers at safety seems to be the direction this team is headed in 2020 and beyond, making Bethea’s $2.875 million cap hit another no-brainer to unload from the books.