The Giant Insider Online

Will OBJ’s Contract Extension Usurp the Giants’ Cap Structure?

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham, Jr. is entering the final year of his contract and in order for the Giants to continue their relationship with him, how much will they need (or afford) to pay him?

That’s a question that has many capologists scratching their heads. The Giants’ pay structure is basically set in stone for 2018, so Beckham may not realize a pay increase this season in his base should he ink an extension. So, where’s the money being spent right now?

When it comes to players earning their paychecks on the New York Giants, most are living up to the financial commitment the team has made in them. In analyzing the Giants’ pay structure, it can be seen that the cap space is spread out liberally throughout the team.

There are only six players whose salaries eat up more than 2.5 percent of the team’s cap space. That includes the following:

  • Eli Manning ($22M, 11.85 percent)
  • Olivier Vernon ($17M, 9.08 percent)
  • Janoris Jenkins ($13M, 6.94 percent)
  • Nate Solder ($10M, 5.34 percent)
  • Damon Harrison ($9.6M, 5.13 percent)
  • Odell Beckham Jr. ($8.459M, 4.52 percent)

Those six players all deserve to be paid. Manning is the two-time Super Bowl MVP who has suited up for every game here for the past 14 seasons. As far as quarterbacks in the NFL go, Manning is the 10th highest-paid in the league. At one point he was the highest paid. He has two more years on the four-year, $84 million extension he signed back in 2015. Although he is considered by many to be in decline, there’s very few out there who have the experience and resume he brings to the table.

Vernon has been a bit of a disappointment after Jerry Reese broke the bank for him back in 2016 with a whopping five-year, $85 million payday. Vernon is an immensely talented player who has played an enormous amount of snaps (when healthy) in his first two seasons with the Giants. His production has been lukewarm, however.

It would be very difficult for anyone to live up to that contract, but Vernon is falling shorter than expected. In 2016, he had 37 QB hurries (second in the league), but only had 8.5 sacks. Last year, an ankle injury kept him out of four games and he racked up seven sacks. This season, Vernon will be moved to OLB which hopefully gives him more sack opportunities. If his numbers don’t improve, the Giants could move on from him after this season as they have a ‘potential out’ in his contract.

Jenkins was another big-ticket free agent defender Reese signed in 2016. Jenkins signed a a five-year, $62.5 million contract even though he had never even been to the Pro Bowl. He took care of that in in his initial year with the Giants, having a breakout season and finishing the season with 49 tackles (44 solo), a career-high 18 pass deflections, one sack, and three interceptions in 15 games. Last year, an ankle injury limited him to nine games, but he remains the Giants’ top cover corner and is poised for another Pro Bowl season.

Solder may have been Tom Brady’s blindside protector in New England for seven seasons, but he, too, is another player garnering big bucks from the Giants who has never been to a Pro Bowl.

In Solder’s case, the Giants are putting their money to good use. The four-year, $62 million contract general manager Dave Gettleman signed Solder to is universally accepted as money well spent after all the issues the Giants have had along the offensive line. Solder is a solid, veteran left tackle that will provide Manning the peace of mind he hasn’t had in years, plus he will mentor the younger linemen. The Giants are a better team with Solder whether he lives up to the contract or not.

Snacks is a steal at five-years, $46.25 million. He is head and shoulders above his run-stopping peers, but is only ninth in salary among defensive tackles in the NFL. Harrison has led all NFL defensive tackles in run stops the past five seasons, going back to his time with the Jets. He will play a bit of a different role this year in new defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s 3-4 alignment as a nose tackle, something he says won’t be much of a problem for him.

Bettcher has a plan that will still allow Snacks to go one-on-one with offensive linemen — battles that he usually wins. The team has surrounded him with some talented linemen over the past two drafts and in free agency, so he will continue to be a force up front for Big Blue.

Beckham is still operating under his rookie contract after his fifth-year option was exercised by the team last year. The Giants are obviously looking to extend him long-term, but are waiting for further proof that he is fully recovered from the season-ending ankle injury that ended his season after four games last October. When that happens, you can expect Beckham to gobble up a good portion of cap space going forward.

The Giants might have to get creative in order to pay him, let’s say, $18 million per year which would equate to over 10% of the team’s total salary cap. That could entail cutting a veteran such as Vernon either entirely or asking him to take a pay cut or – forgive me for saying this – letting Eli Manning go, which is unlikely, but hey, the end has to come someday.

Next year, the Giants will have to pay Alec Ogletree his full boat ($11.75M, 8.12%) and Manning, Vernon, Jenkins and Solder will all be paid at a higher rate as well. Snacks stays the same, but Beckham will end up being either the highest-paid or close to it after he gets his king’s ransom. Let’s not forget that Landon Collins will be free agent after this season and he’s going to command a huge chunk of change as well.

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