NFL Free Agency has only been open for a few days, but the New York Giants have already made aggressive moves to improve their roster ahead of the 2023 season. Coming off their first playoff win since 2012 this season, the Giants gave starting quarterback Daniel Jones a four-year, $160 million contract and put the franchise tag on superstar running back Saquon Barkley. While those moves, though, were focused on keeping their core in tact, their decision to trade a third-round draft pick for Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller represents major upgrade to an offense that lacked consistent receiving weapons for Jones. And by restructuring Waller’s contract to clear an additional $7.376 million in cap space, the Giants showed that more big moves could be in their future.
On Friday morning, the Giants converted $9.835 million of Waller’s base salary into a signing bonus, meaning that it’ll be prorated over the length of his contract, which lasts through 2026. In doing so, they sacrifice cap space in future seasons but have access to more money in the short term. This kind of clever cap maneuvering is the hallmark of a smart front office and is especially necessary this offseason as the Giants try to navigate big raises to their two franchise players without gutting the rest of the roster.
Whether the Giants use these savings to re-sign their current free agents or add new ones, this flexibility is a nice bonus to a Waller trade that already carries appreciable on-field benefits. Although Waller only mustered 388 yards and three touchdowns on 28 catches across nine games in an injury-pocked season last year, he has a long track record as one of the NFL’s most explosive tight ends; in 2019 and 2020, Darren Waller had back to back 1100+ yard seasons, producing the second-most yards of any tight end over that span.