Joe Schoen knows the New York Giants aren’t short of money, even after re-signing Daniel Jones and applying the franchise tag to Saquon Barkley. More space under the salary cap always helps, and the Giants will create some by releasing wide receiver Kenny Golladay.
It makes sense since Golladay has offered next-to no production since signing a $72 million contract to leave the Detroit Lions in 2021. It’s an expensive proposition to dump Golladay before June 1, even though Schoen is leaning that way.
The general manager told Patricia Traina of Giants Country (h/t SB Nation’s Big Blue View’s Nick Falato): “There’s a good chance we just take the hit this year. We already have some money that’s dead money in 2024, just to get through this past season…If we can take our medicine this year, I think that’ll help us in 2024.”
What Schoen is referring to with the phrase “taking our medicine” is saving less money this year by releasing Golladay on the first official day of the new league year. That’s Wednesday, March 15, but the Giants could save twice as much if they cut Golladay loose after June 1.
The financial discrepancy is explained by Pro Football Talk’s Josh Alper. He explained how the first option “clears $6.7 million in cap space while leaving $14.7 million in dead money on the cap.”
Alper also noted how those “2023 cap savings would go up to $13.5 million if the Giants went the other route, but ripping the Band-Aid all the way off now keeps things in better shape for 2024.”
That immediate difference is not insignificant, especially when the Giants have several needs to address during free agency and the 2023 NFL draft.
Giants May Need Kenny Golladay Money Now
Golladay’s fate has long been expected, but wasn’t officially confirmed until ESPN’s Adam Schefter provided an update on Tuesday, February 28:
While $6.7 million is no-small saving, designating Golladay a post-June 1 cut would give the Giants more flexibility for retooling key areas of the roster. Those areas include fortifying inside linebacker, improving starting options at cornerback and beefing up the interior of the offensive line.
It’s a pretty big to-do list, even though Schoen cleared the two biggest hurdles by retaining Jones and Barkley. A starting quarterback and superstar running back will only take the Giants so far, so bolstering other core positions should remain a priority.
Fortunately, there are other ways for the Giants to free up some cash even if they release Golladay on Day 1. Those alternatives are laid out by Ralph Vacchiano of Fox Sports, who included agreeing new contracts with Barkley and All-Pro nose tackle Dexter Lawrence II:
Every little bit extra will help, because although Golladay’s release has been long overdue, replacing him and equipping Jones with a marquee wideout is still a pressing need.
Giants Must Step Up Wide Receiver Search
Golladay offered a poor return on investment by making a mere 43 catches and scoring just one touchdown in two years with the Giants. His struggles exacerbated an already damaging talent deficiency at receiver.
The Giants still lack game-changing athletes and marquee names at the position. Richie James led the team with 57 receptions, while Darius Slayton offered some utility as a deep threat, but both are set to enter free agency.
Help is available in a loaded draft class featuring top prospects such as Quentin Johnston, Zay Flowers and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Things aren’t as bountiful in free agency, but veteran pass-catchers like Jakobi Meyers and Allen Lazard could help.
Whichever option they choose, the Giants must avoid the same costly mistake they made with Golladay.