The NY Giants clearly came into free agency with a plan to keep their future books clean despite spending a bunch of money. That plan has worked.
In a major change of events, the NY Giants have come away from the 2020 NFL free agency period looking extremely prudent with an eye towards the future. With the team possessing almost $80M in cap space, everyone expected Big Blue to be major spenders.
While the Giants have spent almost all of their $77M in 2020 cap space, very few of that extends into future seasons. Unlike in 2016, where Jerry Reese handed out multiple deals that would last four and five years with high cap numbers in the last seasons, Dave Gettleman hasn’t given out a contract over three years, even though his two main free-agent signings are both under 26-years-old.
On top of that, the contracts that were given to James Bradberry and Blake Martinez – far and away from the biggest deals the G-MEN gave out – are frontloaded with roster bonuses, rather than signing bonuses that tend to cripple teams down the line. Blake Martinez signed a 3/$30M deal and will have a $14M cap number in 2020; James Bradberry signed a 3/$45M deal and will have a $16M cap number in 2020.
This is because Bradberry was given a $12M roster bonus and Martinez a $10M roster bonus. Roster bonuses are very advantageous and smart to use for rebuilding teams because they encourage keeping the books flexible in years to come and getting the big parts of contracts out of the way. The reason so many contending teams tend to use signing bonuses is because they have to due to limited cap space, and they usually end up regretting it down the line.
Furthermore, the Giants can easily get out of Bradberry and Martinez’s deals after just two seasons. The team can actually move on from Martinez after just one year if it wanted, incurring just a $5M dead cap charge in 2021 (not going to happen, just showing the cap flexibility we have).
While most NY Giants fans are disappointed that the team didn’t come away with the type of high-level free agents we all anticipated, these changes in contract structure and approach are more than encouraging. To be frank, Big Blue was unlikely to compete for a Super Bowl – or even the playoffs – in 2020.
Knowing this, the team has added some quality players and depth while still possessing massive amounts of cap space into the future when the team has a much better chance of being good. The GIants figure to have over $100M in cap space in 2021 – with few in-house deals to take care of – and a staggering $200M+ in 2022.
That 2022 number will obviously go way down due to spending next season, but it just shows you how well the Giants are positioned to make noise in years to come. With Daniel Jones’ and Saquon Barkley’s contract extensions coming up around that time, the team will have the room to both pay them and be major players in free agency.
I know it’s hard to keep having to look into the future for positivity, but the restraint the team showed in 2020 will pay off down the line.