According to John Clayton of ESPN, the New York Giants will be approximately $4.7 over the NFL salary cap in 2013, if no personnel changes are made to the current roster. But in his post-season press conference, the team's general manager, Jerry Reece, promised roster changes in the wake of the Giants' non-playoff season. But before Reece can make any roster additions, several roster deletions must be contemplated as well.
The primary reason for the cap crunch, despite the removal of the salaries of several unrestricted free agents including Martellus Bennett, Osi Umenyiora, Kenny Phillips, and Keith Rivers, is the fact that the team owes quarterback Eli Manning $13 million under the contract he restructured in March 2012, according to spotrac.com. Manning played under a contract that had a base salary of only $1.75 million this season.
It is doubtful that Umenyiora, Rivers or Phillips will be brought back to the team next year, and the re-signing of Bennett may depend on what he is seeking salary-wise, and what the open market brings as well. Bennett has already indicated that he would like to return to the team, and with 55 catches for 626 yards and 5 touchdowns, an encore in New York remains a distinct possibility.
The Giants will also have to address the contract status of restricted free agent wide receiver Victor Cruz, who is a 2013 Pro Bowl player at his position. To understand what Cruz might be worth per season on the open market, keep in mind that Santonio Holmes of the New York Jets is scheduled to make $11 million in base salary with a bonus of $1.5 million next year, according to nyjetscap.com.
Another restricted free agent, who is due a raise is strong safety Stevie Brown. The defensive back from Michigan was revelation in 2012, leading the Giants with ten takeaways (8 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles) on his own, as well as 76 tackles in only 11 starts this year. Brown's eight interceptions was good for second in the NFL behind the Chicago Bears' Tim Jennings, who had nine.
The primary candidate for a contract restructuring is Big Blue cornerback Corey Webster, due $7 million in base salary in 2013. Many fans have clamored for his release, but secondary help is hard to find in the NFL, and the veteran defensive back from LSU has been a solid contributor for New York since 2005, so bringing Webster back at a lower cap hit remains a possibility.
Additional players who are under contract, but who should be candidates for restructuring are defensive lineman Chris Canty ($6.25 million), linebacker Michael Boley ($4.25 million), offensive lineman David Diehl ($4.1 million), and oft-injured Ahmad Bradshaw ($3.75 million). The Giants will also have almost $2 million in dead cap space come off the books as a result of the Brandon Jacobs buyout.
The Giants will also have to figure out whether or not to re-sign unrestricted free agent players who come with a more modest price tag like linebacker Chase Blackburn ($825,000), William Beatty ($615,000), Rocky Bernard ($925,000), kicker Lawrence Tynes ($1.3 million), backup quarterback David Carr ($950,000) and offensive lineman Kevin Boothe ($1.5 million).
The versatile Boothe will probably be re-signed, but price will determine the outcome of the others on this list, especially the oft-injured Beatty.