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Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Snee, Baas and Giants OL cap issues

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

There is a chance that Chris Snee, the longtime New York Giants guard, will retire this offseason after having had yet another hip surgery in October. Word from people who've talked to Snee is that he feels good, but that he hasn't yet decided whether he wants to keep playing. The idea of going through another rehab and the preparation required for an 11th NFL season may be too much at this point, especially when Snee factors in the requisite post-career quality-of-life questions.

But even if Snee doesn't retire, the Giants may end up having to replace him. Snee carries a salary cap charge of $11.75 million for 2014, the final year of his contract, and the team would save $7.25 million by releasing him. They can't carry him at his scheduled salary, and given his physical condition it doesn't make sense to give him an extension. So if he wants to keep playing and to play for the Giants, the most likely scenario is that he gets cut and re-signs on a one-year deal for considerably less money -- maybe something close to the veteran minimum.

Now, as you likely know, Snee's situation is not a black-and-white, dollars-and-cents issue. He is the husband of coach Tom Coughlin's daughter and the father of three of Coughlin's grandsons, who spend time around the team in training camp and during the season. The family connection is extremely important to Coughlin, and it's strong enough to affect the way the team proceeds with regard to Snee if he wants to return. The personal connection and the fact that Snee has many times helped the Giants with cap concerns by agreeing to contract restructures through the years make it unlikely that the team would just cut him loose. If he wants to be back, they'll probably bring him back to compete for a job. But at the very least, they have to be thinking long-term about replacing him.

Which would be one thing if it were the only issue they face on the interior of the line, but it's not. Center David Baas, who missed 13 games this past season due to injury, is another major contract problem that needs to be addressed. Baas has two years left on his five-year, $27.5 million deal. He carries a cap charge of $8.225 million for 2014 and $8.475 million for 2015. Untenable, especially given the way he's performed and his struggles to stay healthy. Cutting Baas only saves $1.775 million in cap room this year, but it saves them about $5 million in real money, and they could pocket about $5 million in cap savings if they designated him as a post-June 1 cut, though they wouldn't be able to apply that savings until June 2 if they did that. For that reason, the Giants may wait to make their decision on Baas until they see whether a clear upgrade presents itself in free agency or the draft. It's likely they can and will.

Which leaves Kevin Boothe, who was the starting left guard this year before moving over to center late in the season following season-ending injuries to Baas and backup Jim Cordle. Boothe is a versatile player the Giants like a great deal, but he's also a free agent, which offers the team the opportunity to upgrade his position if they so choose. Boothe is a strong candidate to return, but you could make the case that the line would be better with him as an all-purpose backup at guard and center than with him as one of its starters. With three interior line spots to address, they may have no other choice but to re-sign Boothe for low cost and plug him back in as a starter before upgrading the spot next year. But one of their goals this offseason should be to upgrade at center and both guard spots (assuming Snee isn't back). Their failures on offense in 2013 were tied directly to the disappointing performance of the offensive line. And with tackles Justin Pugh and Will Beatty locked in and not going anywhere, the focus is on getting better in the middle.