As long as they need to shed salary to position themselves in a better spot for the future, Giants trade rumors will be toward the top of the NFL’s news cycle.
General manager Joe Schoen admitted that his first few months in office aren’t going to be easy. The Giants are roughly $12 million over the salary cap — meaning some larger contracts that translate to some of their better players might be on the move. That’s not the easiest pill to swallow for a team that went 4-13 last season and has had five consecutive double-digit losing seasons.
“First off, we have to get underneath [the cap],” Schoen said (h/t NFL.com). “We have to make some tough decisions here in the near future just to get to a place where we can sign draft picks and be below the cap. There’s a fine line because you can’t purge.”
As he’s alluded to in multiple interviews, Schoen is looking to shed approximately $40 million to get the Giants in a better position to start bringing on new talent — which will be headlined by two top-10 picks at the 2022 NFL Draft.
The obvious first choice and name that comes up is cornerback James Bradberry — the team’s No. 1 corner who regressed in 2021 but is still one of the better coverage men in the game. Trading the 28-year-old would save between $12 million and $13 million in cap space while yielding a couple of draft picks in return — albeit Day 2 or Day 3 selections.
Still, the market should be teeming with potential suitors looking to bolster their pass defense while immediately getting the Giants under the cap.
Adoree’ Jackson and his $39 million deal would likely catapult to the No. 1 cornerback role, though the Giants would have to spend an earlier pick on trying to replace Bradberry. Whether that would mean using a top-10 pick when there are other pressing needs at offensive line and edge rushing obviously remains to be seen.
Linebacker Blake Martinez could potentially be another trade candidate, but his value has decreased after tearing his ACL — which could prompt the Giants to pursue a restructured contract that would see him make far less than the $14.02 million cap hit that he currently possesses. Retaining him at a cheaper cost should be the team’s best course of action considering a departure would leave them with Tae Crowder, Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin at the middle linebacker spot.
On the offensive side of the ball, plenty of focus is going to be put on the future of running back Saquon Barkley. He’s due $7.2 million in 2022 — quite an investment for a running back who has had his professional career development derailed by injuries.
The No. 2 overall pick of the 2018 draft hasn’t been nearly the same kind of explosive rusher that he was during his rookie season, whether it was a torn ACL or ankle issues that have seemed to take away a step.
For a rebuilding team with offensive line issues, it’s a contract that rises to the top of potential trade pieces. But Schoen and new head coach Brian Daboll have continuously spoken on how Barkley is a part of the team’s future — at least in that they want to see what he can bring to the table in 2022.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Barkley is untouchable. If the right offer comes along from a team expecting a resurgence from the 25-year-old, then it’s another $7 million that comes off the team’s books.