Step one for the New York Football Giants was to begin to free up cap space in advance of the NFL's free agency period, and last week the team, at least partially, achieved that goal.
In what may be stage one of a two or three stage salary cap purge, last week Big Blue released veterans Michael Boley, Ahmad Bradshaw and Chris Canty. Running back David Wilson, the 2012 first round pick from Virginia Tech, is seen as having the ability to take over for the popular Bradshaw. The former Hokie has sprinter's speed and averaged 5.0 yards per carry in limited action last year.
In addition, the team was pleased with the progress of restricted free agent Andre Brown, who led the team with nine rushing touchdowns in 2012, before breaking his leg in a late November game against the Green Bay Packers.
Youthful linebackers Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger are also in line to take over Boley's outside linebacker spot, but the release of Canty caused most of the concern among Giants' fans last week.
According to the website Spotrac.com, interior defensive linemen Marvin Austin and Linval Joseph are signed for next year, but another lineman, Rocky Bernard is a free agent, so the G-men moved quickly to shore up a potentially weak area by re-signing veteran defensive tackle Shaun Rogers to a one-year contract.
Rogers is a former second round draft pick of the Detroit Lions out of the University of Texas, and he spent year on New York's injured reserve list due to a blood clot in his calf discovered during training camp.
When playing well, Rogers is known to be a run stopping force in the middle of the defensive line and has made the Pro Bowl three times (2004, 2005, 2008). According to Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger, Big Blue signed Rogers to a cap-friendly contract.
Vrentas wrote, "defensive tackle Shaun Rogers returned to the Giants on a one-year deal worth $1.005 million, but it is also a split contract to protect the team against injury. Rogers' contract has a $20,000 signing bonus, a $45,000 weight bonus and a base salary of $940,000, but the split lowers his salary to $433,000 if he lands on injured reserve. Rogers spent the 2012 season on IR with a blood clot in his leg. Rogers' base salary counts just $555,000 against the cap because of the veteran minimum salary benefit rule."
Rookie Markus Kuhn could also be in the mix at the defensive lineman position. The seventh-round draft pick from North Carolina State had seen action in the Giants' first ten games of 2012, but he injured a knee against the Cincinnati Bengals on November 11th and was lost for the season. Kuhn's injury required surgery.
And even though New York shed salary by releasing Bradshaw, Canty and Boley, the team will still be impacted in 2013 by their contracts according to Spotrac.com.
Bradshaw will account for $2.5 million of "dead" cap space, with Canty at $1.7 million in dead space, and Boley coming in at $1.4 of dead cap space counted against New York's 2013 salary cap.