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Mailbag: A look at the NFL salary cap situation

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Rob in Florida: What is the Giants current salary cap situation at this point? With the projected lowered amount, will they have any money to either re-sign or get free agents?

John Schmeelk: The Giants' salary cap situation is changing nearly daily, based on their decisions with current players on the roster. At the time of this writing, the NFL salary cap has not been set, either, so the front office does not have a specific number. Like most teams, the Giants will be navigating a difficult cap situation through no fault of their own. The 2020 salary cap was about $198 million and most teams anticipated it jumping up to near $210 million. Falling pandemic-related falling revenues left most experts anticipating the new number coming in between $180-185 million. Teams plan their salary cap spending years in advance and there was no way to anticipate or prepare for the diminished cap.

Due to this unique circumstance, expect more long-term contracts this season to be back-loaded to lower their first-year cap number OR for many players to sign one-year deals so they can re-enter free agency when the cap rises again in 2022. The Giants have two key players on their defense hitting free agency in Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson, and their front office has been clear they want to add playmakers to help Daniel Jones this off-season. It will require some creativity for them to sign free agents while retaining their own key players.

Jay in New York: What's the likelihood the Giants grab a tight end (say, Kyle Rudolph) in free agency if Kyle Pitts is gone in the draft? Also, I think a cornerback opposite James Bradberry would pay dividends - any ideas?

John Schmeelk: The Giants would have to decide whether they want to add a tight end in free agency before they know who will be available to them in the draft. At this point, there is not a need to add one in free agency because they have all three of their tight ends who played significant snaps last season under contract. But this doesn't mean they won't draft one.

The starting corner across from James Bradberry was a bit of a carousel last year, rotating between Ryan Lewis, Isaac Yiadom and even Julian Love at the end of the season. It makes sense for the Giants to want to solidify that spot. There could be a quality cornerback prospect to select at picks 11 or 42, though cornerbacks often take some time to adjust to the NFL. On the other hand, It might be too pricey to add a starting-caliber cornerback in free agency given their needs.

Ken in New York: Has anyone considered starting Jabril Peppers and Xavier McKinney at safety and putting Logan Ryan at the cornerback opposite Bradberry ?

John Schmeelk: Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham knows about Logan Ryan's versatility and had the opportunity to use Ryan primarily as an outside cornerback last year - but decided against it. Ryan's greatest strength comes with the nuances he adds to the position in the middle of the field. He is great at reading and anticipating what offenses are trying to do and disguising what the defense is doing. Those things aren't lost if he moves to cornerback, but their impact is somewhat blunted near the sideline.

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