COMMENTARY | Although the New York Giants have reportedly cleared nearly $14 million of player salaries to get under the $121.1 million salary cap, they are believed at this time to have approximately $4 million with which to offer free agents.
That's not much, so it's probably safe to say that more moves are coming before March 12, the start of the 2013 free agency sweeps.
However, instead of making additional roster cuts, the Giants might instead be looking to increase their available cap space by attempting to reduce some of their larger player contracts, three of which include:
Offensive Lineman David Diehl
The 32-year old Diehl, who is entering the final year of his contract, is set to earn a $4.475 million base salary in 2013.
While the growing sentiment among Giants fans is to cut Diehl and hand the starting right tackle job to third-year lineman James Brewer, there may be a few reasons why Diehl will be kept on the roster a little while longer.
One, the Giants currently do not have much, if any, established depth at tackle on their roster. If Diehl is cut, they are left with Brewer, the only veteran under contract with NFL experience, and a handful of youngsters including Levy Adcock, Matt McCants, Selvish Capers, and Brandon Mosley.
Another likely factor in the team's decision to retain Diehl right now is the uncertainty surrounding the left side of their offensive line--tackle Will Beatty and guard Kevin Boothe are both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.
Given that Diehl is versatile enough to play guard or tackle, the Giants are likely going to hold onto him until they can land the services of another experienced and versatile veteran--think a Sean Locklear type of signing.
Assuming the Giants do add veteran depth at this position, it would be tempting to unload Diehl's contract, especially if he is no longer part of the plans for the starting five. However, his versatility is hard to ignore, though his current base salary would probably be a lot for a team to carry on a backup player.
Cornerback Corey Webster
A frequent source of Giants' fans ire last season, there's no disputing that the 2012 version of Webster looked nothing like the player who burst onto the scene as one of the NFL's top cornerbacks in 2008.
How much of Webster's decline was due to injury--he dealt with a broken hand and a hamstring issue for part of last season--is debatable.
What's probably not up for debate, though, is that his $7 million 2013 base salary has a stranglehold on the Giants' cap.
Like the offensive line, the Giants' experienced depth at cornerback is thin. Prince Amukamara is expected back, his star on the rise. Jayron Hosley will be going into his second season after an inconsistent and, at times, injury-filled rookie campaign, but hopes are high for his sophomore season.
The team reworked Terrell Thomas' contract to lower his cap number, but Thomas is coming off his second ACL surgery in as many years, and could be destined to move to safety.
The rest of the cornerback cast currently under contract includes Antonio Dennard, Terence Frederick, Anthony Jackson, Trumaine McBride, and Laron Scott--all players with little to no NFL game experience.
While it would not be surprising if the Giants target a free agent or two at this position-Baltimore Ravens cornerback Cary Williams would be an intriguing option if he's still available-Webster doesn't appear to be in jeopardy of being cut, though the same probably can't be said about his base salary.
Defensive End Justin Tuck
The Giants' defensive captain is entering the final year of his contract in which he is due a base salary of $4.5 million.
In 2011, Tuck, hampered by injuries, recorded 10.0 sacks, 9 quarterback hits, 34 hurries, and made 26 stops for zero or negative yardage despite playing in only 12 games.
Those totals dropped in 2012 as in 14 games, the defensive end, again bothered by injuries, recorded just 4.0 sacks, 8 quarterback hits, 20 hurries, and 24 stops.
The Giants' defense is built around its pass rush, and the front office has never made any secret about its penchant for pass rushing defensive ends.
If the Giants were to part ways with their defensive captain, which is unlikely, they would have Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka, the latter of whom appears to have made the switch from linebacker to defensive end, under contract.
They would also have Adewale Ojomo, last year's summer sensation whom the team thought enough about to carry all season on the 53-man roster, and Adrian Tracy, an exclusive rights free agent that flashed at times on defense last year.
Instead, don't be surprised if Tuck's base salary is tweaked to provide cap relief while the front office looks for him to rebound from what was statistically an off year.
Patricia Traina is a New Jersey-based sportswriter who has covered the New York Giants for more than 15 seasons for Inside Football. She is also a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow her on Twitter @Patricia_Traina.
SOURCES: NFLPlayers.com, ProFootballFocus.com