Back in 2016, the New York Giants made the NFL's biggest splash in free agency. They signed a trio of high-priced defensive players to add to the talent they already had on hand, bringing in Janoris Jenkins, Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon on five-year deals that paid them a combined $193.75 million. It paid off during the 2016 season as the Giants had one of the best defenses in all of football and made a trip to the playoffs, but the team has regressed badly the past two years.
New York already traded Harrison last season, receiving only a fifth-round pick from the Detroit Lions in exchange for his services. Now, they may be looking to deal Vernon. According to multiple reports, the Giants have made it clear to opposing teams that they are willing to move him, and may simply cut him if they can't find a suitable deal.
Teams that have communicated with the Giants are under the impression they are trying to trade OLB Olivier Vernon, per sources. If they don’t get a deal they could potentially cut Vernon after finding a replacement in free agency. Vernon is set to make $15.5M this year. #giants— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) March 1, 2019
Vernon is three years into his five-year, $85 million pact with the Giants. He's recorded 28 tackles for loss, 22 sacks, and 56 quarterback hits across 39 games, numbers which are solid but not necessarily elite. He's set to count on the Giants' books for $19.5 million in 2019, with a base salary of $15.25 million and workout bonus of $250K. If the Giants trade or release him prior to June 1, they'll save $11.5 million against the cap and carry $8 million in dead money. If they deal or release him after June 1, they'll save $15.5 million on this year's budget bur carry $4 million in dead money this year and next.
Vernon's $15.5 million salary (including the workout bonus) is a bit high for a player of his caliber, but only a bit. He's still a good pass rusher and could make a good fit for a team that strikes out on the top options in free agency. As long as they don't insist on an outrageous return, the Giants should be able to find a deal for Vernon at some point. New York was able to deal Jason Pierre-Paul last offseason, for example, and he had a strong season for the Buccaneers.