How the Latest 2021 NFL Salary Cap Projection Would Affect the Giants

The Giants are going to have some challenges to make players fit under the cap without cutting to the bone. Here's how they can do that.
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As the COVID-19 pandemic kept tightening its grip worldwide on various industries and individuals, not even the NFL, which unlike every other major sports league, found a way to hold a full season and postseason, wasn't exempt.

But that was not without its repercussions. The inability of teams around the league to host fans and the cancellation of the four preseason games led to a vast reduction of league-wide revenue that will feel this off-season in terms of the salary cap.

According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, teams are cautiously optimistic that the 2021 cap "will land closer to $185 million per club -- if not a little higher -- than the $175 million minimum the sides agreed to last summer."

For the Giants, a projected $6 million would make a significant difference for their club.

Per Over the Cap, which is working with a $176 million cap floor, the Giants are currently $3,373,297 in the red, which means before they can even begin to entertain signing anyone, they'd have to balance their books to comply with the lower cap figure.

But if the cap were to come in at $185 million, the Giants would then find themselves with just a hair under $4 million of available space.

That number is significant because it's believed that the Giants would have to end up making some deeper cuts than unusual that would affect their overall depth, to scrape together enough funds to re-sign their free agents and get their upcoming 2021 rookie class under contract.


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With only six picks in this year's draft, having to shed certain players to create cap space would then put the Giants into a dangerous position, which would affect the depth and result in the piling on of dead money.

Thankfully, the Giants last year made a significant change in how they structure contracts, a change that should help them this year.

They stayed away from doling out excessing signing bonuses. Instead, they went to roster bonuses and performance incentives, all of which made the contracts signed by players a series of one-year deals, which allowed for an easier out and no dead money.

This is something I expect the Giants will continue to do, not just with future signings, but perhaps with guys they might have to cut and bring back on a Veteran Salary Benefit (VSB) deal.

A VSB deal is a one-year deal that, regardless of the player's accrued years of experience, counts the same as a player with two years of service plus up to $139,000 of combined bonuses).

This VSB would be perfect for a guy like linebacker David Mayo, who currently carries a $2.3 million cap hit in 2021. 

By cutting Mayo (who has no dead money) and re-signing him to a VSB, Mayo would count for $917,500 ($780,000 base salary, the amount a second-year player would receive in 2021, plus up to $137,500 in additional compensation, be it a roster bonus, signing bonus, or workout bonus.

That's a $1.382 million cap "savings," which, if the Giants do enough of those deals (as I expect will be the case), the savings will add up.


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