The New York Giants made the first two big moves of the 2023 offseason on Tuesday, re-signing quarterback Daniel Jones to a four-year deal and placing the franchise tag on running back Saquon Barkley. Yet, those moves just mark the beginning of what will be an incredibly important offseason in New York, so where do the Giants go from here?
As it stands right now, the Giants have $18.97 million in cap space after securing Jones and Barkley. While that may seem like a lot considering the amount of money on Jones’ contract, general manager Joe Schoen explained that the way the contract was structured offered the team the financial flexibility they were seeking.
“The way we did Daniel’s deal with the signing bonus, that spreads out over four years,” explained Schoen. “Then his [base salary] is $9.5 million this year.”
The Giants’ ability to prorate Jones’ signing bonus, which was $36 million, in order to take the impact off of just this season gives the quarterback a cap hit of just $18.5 million in 2023, “so that’s how we have money there” said Schoen.
However, the amount of available cap space for the Giants can increase as a result of a few potential moves the front office is still working on. One of which is continuing to discuss a long-term contract with Barkley, which Schoen stated clearly that the team was discussing with the running back as soon as Wednesday morning.
“We’ll see what happens with Saquon. The franchise number is just over ten, but if you extend him and there’s a signing bonus involved, you can free up more cap space.”
The other potential deal that could be re-structured to free up more cap space is with defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence.
“We’ve started talking to [Dexter’s] representatives,” Schoen said during his virtual press conference on Wednesday. “He’s on the fifth-year option; you can lower that number with a signing bonus, so the signing bonus allows you to spread the money out over the length of the contract, up to five years, and that’s how you’re able to lower the yearly amount that counts against the cap.”
That kind of savvy structuring was a staple of Schoen’s when he worked under Brandon Beane in Buffalo and it’s giving the Giants more flexibility to make moves this offseason. However, there are also some looming decisions that will cost the team salary and simply can’t be avoided. The biggest of which is the decision of when to release Kenny Golladay.
If the Giants were to cut Golladay before June 1st, they will receive cap savings of $6.7 million but have a dead cap hit this year of $14.7 million. However, if they cut him after June 1st, their cap savings would be $13.5 million and the dead cap hit of $7.9 million would be pushed to 2024.
In his press conference, it sounded like Schoen was comfortable enough with how the Giants had managed the cap that they are more likely to move on from Golladay soon.
“With Kenny, we’ll see,” he said. “But there’s a good chance we just take the hit this year… If we can take our medicine this year, I think that will help us in 2024 and then get out of the business of having dead money in any year.”
If you factor in the release of Golladay and the potential signing bonus restructuring of Lawrence and Barkley, it’s possible that the Giants could have upwards of $30 million in cap space heading into the offseason, which is more than enough to make some impactful moves.
“We’re not shopping for minimum players anymore,” joked Schoen. “Having the flexibility now to be creative, go get players at maybe a little bit higher value but also being able to sign tier three players, tier two, one, etc. However you do it, we can map it out now, and there are players we can procure now who maybe we weren’t able to in the past.”
However, just because the Giants have the money to spend doesn’t mean they’ll be throwing it around.
“We’ll be fiscally responsible with the moves we make,” cautioned Schoen. “We’ve got some players targeted that we think will make an impact if the financials are right, and if not, we have plans B, C, and D, if we need to go there.”
So while some free agent additions for New York could have a major impact, it feels more likely that the Giants will continue to add to the depth of their roster, creating a more well-rounded team, and not throw a big contract at one free agent.
“I know people talk about wide receivers, but we’re still building a team in all three phases,” said Schoen. “We’re gonna look to upgrade offensively, defensively, and with our special teams unit. It’s nice to have the draft capital that we have, the financial flexibility that we have, to really start building this thing.”
That draft capital was a big focal point for Schoen, who continued to stress that the Giants need to maintain financial flexibility for years to come.
“With Andrew [Thomas] and Dexter and a few other players coming down the road, you’re still gonna need to build through the draft because I think there’s gonna be some players making good money on our roster.”
However, even with one eye trained on the future, the Giants now have the freedom to attack free agency with a decent amount of money and the security of knowing that their two best offensive players will be back in 2023.
“It was kind of a wait-and-see until we knew where we landed with Daniel and Saquon,” admitted Schoen. “Now that we’re there, we’re really going into strategy meetings leading up until Monday when we can start negotiating with free agents.”
Who those free agent targets might be remains a closely guarded topic; although, we did cover potential wide receivers and linebackers who could be good fits. Yet, whoever the team decides to go after, fans should be confident in knowing that the people making decisions have a plan for the future of this organization and won’t deviate from it.
“We’re gonna be convicted in what we’re doing,” stated Schoen. “It’s a well-thought-out process.”