As we continue to take a piece-by-piece look at the many decisions facing the New York Giants this offseason, we settle this morning on defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, who looms as a potential salary-cap casualty. Kiwanuka is to earn about $4.4 million in salary this season and carry a cap cost of $7.05 million. Cutting him would save the Giants $1.8 million against the 2014 cap and $4.825 million against the 2015 cap. If they don't want to do an Eli Manning extension this offseason, the Giants will be looking for other ways to shave cap costs. And if they're able to bring back Justin Tuck on a team-friendly deal and willing to give Damontre Moore extended playing time in 2014, then Kiwanuka seems like a guy they could do without.
Now, the Giants like Kiwanuka. He's been a good soldier, moving from defensive end to linebacker and back in recent years as the team's needs have changed. He plays on special teams and fills a variety of roles on defense. But he hasn't been a major difference-maker, and it's likely they could find a replacement on the open market (or perhaps bring Kiwanuka himself back) for less money to fill a rotational defensive end spot. So they could ask him to take a pay cut, or they could release him and try to sign him for a lower number if he's still looking for work a month or so into free agency.
If Tuck signs elsewhere early in free agency, that likely helps Kiwanuka's case to stay with the team and reject the idea of a pay cut. But if Tuck signs a deal before free agency starts, Kiwanuka could start to look like a spare part, and that $1.8 million in cap savings could be more appealing than having him on the roster in 2014.