That doesn’t mean the Giants general manager is done working for the summer.
Rookie minicamp starts this week, OTAs and minicamp start soon and then training camp will kick off at the end of July. Between now and then, there is still plenty for Schoen to accomplish in terms of roster building, putting the finishing touches on his front office/scouting staff and clearing cap space†
Here are six items that should be on Schoen’s to-do list:
1. Fill out the front office: Schoen has already started building his scouting and personnel staff. It started by firing some longtime holdovers — first Mark Koncz (co-director of player personnel) earlier this year, then more recently Chris Pettiti (director of college scouting), Kyle O’Brien (senior personnel executive), Ken Sternfeld (senior pro scouting executive) and Matt Schauger (senior pro scout/football systems analyst) — and then bringing in some of his own people.
The list of additions so far includes Scott Hamel (area scout), Mike Derice (national scout) and Dennis Hickey (asst. director of player personnel).
Hickey is the most notable of that group. He was the Dolphins general manager in 2014-15 — and was Schoen’s boss. He actually promoted Schoen from assistant director of college scouting to director of player personnel. Hickey then followed Schoen over to Buffalo where he was a senior college scout from 2017-21. The Dolphins went 13-18 in Hickey’s two years as GM before being fired in January 2016.
Hamel spent five years as an area scout for the Bears where he played a hand in the scouting of prospects like David Montgomery and Justin Fields. Derice spent the last 10 years as an area scout with the Colts and crossed over with Giants assistant GM Brandon Brown for two years when Brown was an advance scout for Indianapolis early in his career.
And, by the way, Schoen’s most important hire was his first one: Brown, who he stole from the Eagles in February and sent Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman into a tizzy† Schoen is clearly already trusting Brown’s judgment with the hiring of Derice. Brown also got dinner with San Diego State tight end Daniel Bellinger during the pre-draft process, and the Giants eventually drafted Bellinger in the fourth round.
The most significant remaining job to fill on Schoen’s staff: Pettit’s replacement for director of college scouting. Expect to be filled soon.
2. Sign the draft class: The Giants don’t technically need to do this until training camp, but it can’t hurt to get it done now especially with OTAs and minicamps coming up soon. Last year, Kadarius Toney held out of voluntary OTAs in a contract dispute. That was an unusual decision for a rookie, even an unsigned one, so don’t expect that to happen again.
Based on their draft slot, here are the projected contracts for the Giants rookies (via Over the Cap) — which they can now afford to sign after cutting Bradberry:
† EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux (No. 5 overall): four years, $36.2 million; $23.5 million signing bonus, $6.58 million cap hit in 2022. Fifth-year team option in 2026.
† OT Evan Neal (No. 7 overall): four years, $28.21 million; $17.7 million bonus, $5.1 million cap hit in 2022. Fifth-year team option in 2026.
† WR Wan’Dale Robinson (No. 43 overall): Four years, $8.94 million; $3.68 million bonus, $1.62 million cap hit in 2022.
† G Joshua Ezeudu (No. 67 overall): Four years, $5.77 million; $1.37 million bonus, $1.04 million cap hit in 2022.
† CB Cor’Dale Flott (No. 81 overall): Four years, $5.48 million; $1.16 million bonus, $997,027 cap hit in 2022.
† TE Daniel Bellinger (No. 112 overall): Four years, $4.59 million; $933,680 bonus, $938,420 cap hit in 2022.
† S Dane Belton (No. 114 overall): Four years, $4.58 million; $923,528 bonus, $935,882 cap hit in 2022.
† LB Micah McFadden (No. 146 overall): Four years, $4,078 million; $418,748 bonus, $809,687 cap hit in 2022.
† DT DJ Davidson (No. 147 overall): Four years, $4,076 million; $416,880 bonus, $809,200 cap hit in 2022.
† G Marcus McKethan (No. 173 overall): Four years, $3.98 million; $325,520 bonus, $786,380 cap hit in 2022.
† LB Darrian Beavers (No. 182 overall): Four years, $3.9 million; $243,144 bonus, $765,786 cap hit in 2022.
3. Clear more cap space: The Giants needed about $12.7 million in cap space to sign their draft class. After cutting Bradberry, they should be at around $16 million in cap space. If they sign all of their draft class in a timely manner, that cap figure would drop back down to a little more than $3 million — which is not nearly enough to either add to the roster or to carry into the season when more money will be needed for the practice squad and other in-season transactions.
So, expect some more maneuvering, either soon or as it gets closer to training camp. There are two moves in particular that make the most sense to save money:
1. Cut or trade wide receiver Darius Slayton. That would save $2.54 million with only a $58,721 dead cap penalty. It looks unlikely that Slayton plays a significant role in the offense this year and a nearly $2.6 million cap hit is probably a bit too much for a fifth receiver, which Slayton will be once Sterling Shepard returns from injury. Slayton’s fate was sealed once the Giants drafted Robinson to add to a group that already had Kenny Golladay, Toney and Shepard. Shoe also added Richie James to presumably take over as the returner.
Maybe Slayton would agree to a pay-cut to stick around, but he might have a better shot at playing time elsewhere.
2. Restructure Leonard Williams† The defensive lineman has a massive $27.3 million cap hit in 2022, and it’s already at $26.3 million for 2023. But it’s the only real avenue to clear cap space after Slayton, unless Schoen considers Golladay a long-term fit, which seems unlikely. For Williams, the Giants could do a slight restructuring of Williams’ contract, converting some of his $19 million salary into a signing bonus and pushing that cap hit into 2023 — or even future years by adding void years at the end of his contract. Even if it’s just for a few million in 2022 to give Schoen some breathing room.
Schoen doesn’t want to kick the can down the road too much, but if the Giants want to be able to operate, he might not really have a choice.
The Giants could also try to cultivate some savings by getting the injured Nick Gates to agree to a pay-cut, but his cap hit is only $3 million anyway so that wouldn’t be significant savings.
4. Sign a veteran cornerback: After cutting Bradberry, Adoree’ Jackson elevates to the No. 1 cornerback spot, a risky proposition for an injury-prone player. He’s missed 22 games combined the last three years, including four in his first season with the Giants. After Jackson, it’s a lot of inexperience on the depth chart.
Aaron Robinson, Jarren Williams and Rodarius Williams will battle to start opposite Jackson on the outside. In the nickel, it will likely come down to Darnay Holmes, Jarren Williams or Flott. In a division with AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, Terry McLaurin, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup, that’s not exactly ideal.
The Giants won’t be able to make any big-ticket signings or trades, but they can add a veteran on the cheap to at least add some experience and competition† Jimmy Smith — with ties to defensive coordinator Wink Martindale from their time together with the Ravens — makes a lot of sense. The 27-year-old Kevin King would be an interesting buy-low candidate, as he thrives in man-to-man coverage but fell out of favor in Green Bay.
5. Sign a veteran safety: As much as the Giants need help at corner, they at least have bodies at the position. That’s less true at safety, where the Giants went into the NFL Draft with two safeties on the roster (Xavier McKinney, Julian Love) and only left with one more (Belton). They added a promising UDFA in Kentucky’s Yusuf Corker — but he was likely undrafted for a reason, so expectations shouldn’t be too high. Don’t be surprised if the Giants add a veteran at this spot in the not-too-distant future.
Some notable veterans still available include Tashaun Gipson, Jaquiski Tartt, Jarrod Wilson, plus a couple former Giants in Landon Collins and Andrew Adams.
6. Announce that fans will be allowed back at training camp: This is likely out of Schoen’s control and is more co-owner John Maras department — but Schoen could win a lot of goodwill with the fanbase if he spearheads an effort to allow fans back in for training camp. They weren’t there in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but the Giants were one of the few teams that didn’t allow fans to watch any practices in East Rutherford in 2021.
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Zack Rosenblatt may be reached at email@example.com†