Will Giants have enough salary cap space to re-sign Jabrill Peppers after 2021 NFL season?

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Jabrill Peppers during pregame warmups
Jabrill Peppers during pregame warmups

When Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Cleveland Browns back in 2018, first-rounder Jabrill Peppers was the main short-term investment in the deal that also included a first-round pick in that year’s draft (Dexter Lawrence).

Peppers showed glimpses of Pro Bowl-esque play during his time in Cleveland, but it didn’t fully materialize in two seasons.

Flash forward to the 2021 season and Peppers has transitioned into a pivotal safety for this Giants defense that has taken big leaps since his arrival, thanks in part to key additions and Patrick Graham’s coaching.

Playing down in the box to utilize his tackling abilities, Peppers is a key cog who makes the defense function and will continue to play that role in 2021.

But can the Giants keep him beyond this season?

For the many questions that surround the Giants this year, Peppers’ contract situation might not be at the top of the list, but it should be on there somewhere for GM Dave Gettleman and the rest of the front office as he is playing on his fifth-year option. After that, unrestricted free agency is the next step.

Looking at the Giants’ current cap situation, a lot has been invested in the team’s secondary, with Adoree’ Jackson’s three-year deal worth $13 million per season the latest move to bolster that group. James Bradberry’s addition last offseason (three years, $43.5 million) tacks on to that as well as Logan Ryan getting a new deal (three years, $30 million) just before the 2020 campaign ended.

Additionally, a second-round pick in 2020 was spent on Xavier McKinney, another safety who adds to the young mix in the back of the defense.

Overall, the Giants have around $4.58 million left to spend on their cap in 2021, per OverTheCap, which is usually set aside for midseason moves just in case. But in 2022, the total doesn’t change too much because 47 contracts are guaranteed. So as of right now, Big Blue has about $4.87 million to dish out.

Of course, Gettleman can make restructures and roster cuts happen to lower the payroll if a deal for Peppers is in the cards. But Giants fans must remember that Saquon Barkley will be entering his fifth-year option next season, and he should be a high priority to receive his first NFL extension. And then the year after that, Daniel Jones will be in his fifth year and a decision must be made on him. Even this season, Evan Engram is on his fifth-year option.

Looking even further to 2023, Blake Martinez, Bradberry, Ryan, and others are shed from the payroll, so that needs to be taken into consideration. The Giants only have 23 guaranteed contracts for 2023 right now, with $104 million left in cap room.

So what am I trying to say here? Basically, it’s unknown what the Giants want to do with Peppers at the moment. They could see how things play out on his fifth-year option, and deal with whatever comes in free agency after the season. That appears to at least be the play for now considering no buzz has been out there regarding his contract.

There’s also the possibility that extension talks take place where a deal that includes Peppers playing on his cap-friendly $6.8 million this season works itself out to keep the Giants in check now, and then the big money comes later on.

There are options.

But Gettleman is surely aware that others on the team need to get paid down the line, and if Peppers continues to play at a high level like he has since coming to New York, he may want a big payday. Remember what happened with Landon Collins?

It’s not something to necessarily worry about right now. But as the 2021 season gets underway, Peppers will be one of those players performing for his next deal. We’ll see if it’s the Giants who give it to him.