COMMENTARY | The Giants finally struck a new deal with unrestricted free agent offensive lineman Kevin Boothe, who on March 25, 2013 signed what has been reported by several sources to be a one-year contract.
While the move doesn't initially appear to be that significant beyond the fact that it is one less worry for the coaches to have regarding the starting offensive line, the transaction could have a direct impact on some of the team's other contracts.
The previous uncertainty surrounding Boothe's status was thought to be one of the reasons behind the delay regarding the Giants approaching offensive lineman David Diehl about a contract restructure, the restructure first reported by The Bergen Record.
Diehl, who is scheduled to earn a base salary of $4.475 million in 2013, the final year of his contract, is not believed to be in any jeopardy of being cut by the team because of his versatility, though his hold on a starting position would appear to be less certain.
The Giants historically have not approached a player with a high cap figure unless they need the cap space. The thinking was that if there was a chance the Giants might have two openings on the starting offensive line, Diehl likely would have been in the mix for one of those openings, which likely would have meant that his base salary would not have been adjusted.
With Boothe back on a one-year deal, the Giants, who have been trying to wrap up contract talks with receiver Victor Cruz on a deal that, according to a report in The New York Daily News, could pay him in excess of $7 million per season, can now approach Diehl, who said recently during an appearance on the NFL Network's "Total Access" program that he hadn't been approached about a salary reduction, but that he would be willing to consider it if it would help the team with locking up Cruz.
There is also another important factor to consider regarding Boothe's return besides the experience he brings to the table and that his contract likely allows for the dominoes to fall into place for Cruz's new contract.
The Giants, who are widely believed to be seriously looking at some young offensive linemen in next month's draft, rarely insert a rookie into the starting offensive line's lineup from day one. In fact, the last rookie offensive lineman to earn a full time starting job right out of the gate was guard Chris Snee, a 2004 second-round draft pick.
That season, Snee started 11 games before being sidelined for five games of his rookie year with an inflamed gland just below his jaw.
What does that have to do with Boothe and his one-year deal? As they have seemingly done in the past with the majority of their draft picks, the Giants' plan could very well be to draft a blue-chip guard prospect within the first three rounds, let him sit a year behind Boothe, and then ease him into the starting lineup in 2014.
Also, with the potential of cap problems happening again next year-according to Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal - the NFL salary cap has been projected to remain flat through the year 2015 - it makes sense for the Giants to limit some of the veteran player contracts to one-year deals as this allows the team to fill a hole until a younger, cheaper option is ready for full time duty.
As an added bonus, a one-year veteran minimum deal given to players with four or more accrued NFL seasons only counts for $555,000 (plus whatever signing bonus the player received, so long as it doesn't exceed $65,000) toward the current year's salary cap. If the player does not make the final 53-man roster, the team is only charged for the player's signing bonus for that year.
SOURCES: Giants.com, NFLPA.com, The Bergen Record, ESPN NY, The New York Daily News, Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal
Patricia Traina is a New Jersey-based sportswriter who has covered the New York Giants fulltime for 16 seasons for Inside Football. She is also a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow her on Twitter @Patricia_Traina.
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