The Giants did not have to do a thing on Wednesday to gain $2.5 million in salary cap space for the 2021 season.
Problem is, all the other teams in the league also gained the same cap space. The NFL finally set the cap number for the season, and it is $182.5 million. The floor for this year’s cap had been set at $180 million before all teams were informed they would have a bit more money to work with. This is down from $198.2 million in 2020, the result of an entire season played amid a global pandemic, COVID-19 restrictions and empty stadiums in most cities.
Despite the slight increase, the Giants have plenty of work to do to get to the $182.5 million threshold by March 17, which is the start of the new league year. At present, they are $7.9 million over the cap, according to OvertheCap.com. This includes the $19.4 million allotted to make defensive tackle Leonard Williams their franchise player. This also includes the $1.35 million saved by the restructuring (slashing is more accurate) of tight end Levine Toilolo’s contract. Toilolo was scheduled to make $2.95 in salary in 2021 but he agreed to a pay-cut to $1.6 million. Toilolo gets $650,000 in guaranteed money to return for a second season with the team.
To get under the cap, the Giants are going to need to further pare down their roster. The offensive line is likely a place where they will start. Veteran guard Kevin Zeitler is set to count $14.5 million on the cap and releasing him would save the Giants $12 million. Zeiter recently turned 31 and was the most consistent lineman on the team and to keep him around, the Giants could reduce his 2021 cap number with a contract extension. General manager Dave Gettleman said on Tuesday he is hesitant to do this with many players, as it kicks the can down the road, as far as the team creating cap difficulty in the future.
Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 season and is set to count $16.5 million on the cap. Releasing him would save $6 million on the cap but also create $10.5 million in dead money. Solder on Wednesday posted on the website “The Increase” that he is not ready to retire, writing “If I am offered another chance to play football, I’ll probably take it.”