Jon Beason's contract and whether it makes sense for Giants to bring him back

Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason insists nine toes would've worked just fine, as long as it wasn't either of the big ones that had to be sacrificed.

Beason tried desperately to play this season with nine. He wore a special shoe and attempted to run with his injured right big toe pointing towards the sky. It wasn't possible. He was forced to shut it down after playing in parts of four games this season.

The Giants defense was hurt by his absence. They finished ranked 29th overall. They were 30th against the run. Beason's overall presence as the signal-caller and his prowess against the run were sorely missed.

On the surface, his return next season appears desperately needed ... except there is a lot that goes into the equation. Money is one factor. Durability and age are others. Combined they will likely determine whether the Giants bring Beason back for next season and beyond.

Let's explore.

Can Beason Be Trusted?

This isn't a knock against Beason as a person or even his on-field performance. It's the reality for a player that has stayed on the field for 24 games over the past four years because of injuries. That's an average of six games per season (I know, I'm exceptional at math).

It seems almost foolish to pencil in a player that has managed to play more than four games in a season just once over the past four years at the most important spot on a defense. The middle linebacker calls the plays, makes sure everyone is aligned properly and knows their assignments. When that is missing, you have the 2014 Giants, who allowed 62 pass plays of 20 or more yards and had enough coverage breakdowns to last three seasons.

Can the Giants risk that happening again if Beason can't last the 2015 season? Can they afford to put their defense in the hands of an injury-prone middle linebacker who will be 30 years old later this month? It's hard to imagine, at least without there being a strong backup plan.

The Money
The injury history/reliability factor combined with Beason's contract make his return especially flimsy. The veteran linebacker is due a $3.6 million base salary, a $1 million roster and can earn another $1.2 million in per game bonuses. His salary cap figure is a whopping $7.37 million.

Here's the full breakdown of the three-year deal Beason signed last offseason:

Terms: 3 years, $17 million
2015 Details
$3.6M base salary
$1M Roster Bonus (due on the fifth day of the league year, March 15)
$1.2M Roster Bonus Per Game
$100K Workout Bonus
$750K Not Likely to Be Earned Incentives (NLTBEs)
$7.37M Cap Number
$5.9M Cash Value

Savings vs. Salary Cap if Cut: $7.37M - $2.94M (prorated bonus money for 2015 and ’16) = $4.43M

So the Giants could get an extra $4.4 million to spend this offseason if they release Beason. Or they could try to renegotiate his deal (aka make him take a paycut).
Beason, who serves as his own agent, said several weeks back he fully expects to hold up his end of the deal. Of course he does. He can earn $5.9 million next season. That's a nice haul after playing in parts of four games the previous season.

But Beason is a keen businessman, and seems resigned to the fact that the Giants will come to him asking to alter the numbers.

"I believe that there is value there," Beason the agent said of Beason the player last week. "Great value there, maybe more so than they think they have. In my personal opinion, I should feel that way.

"Nevertheless, you're going to do what is best for you and you try to work with the team and do what is best for the team. I know when it comes down to it, [assistant general manager] Kevin [Abrams] and I and [GM] Jerry [Reese] will make it happen."

Taking a pay cut, moving around money, ripping up the previous deal and rewriting a new one are all options. The Giants like Beason and Beason likes the Giants, but this is the business of football.

"There are always ways a team can work with a guy," Beason said. "We'll cross that bridge when it comes."

It seems to be approaching rather quickly. The Giants have a key decision to make at middle linebacker.

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