Something had to be cut. Corey Webster decided it was better to have it be his salary than himself.
The cornerback agreed to slice his base salary for 2013 nearly in half to stay with the Giants. He was due to earn $7 million in the final year of his contract, but Webster's new salary will be $4 million, according to an NFL source.
Webster, who just turned 31, is coming off an up-and-down season as the Giants' No. 1 cornerback. Had he not accepted the pay cut, which was first reported by the NFL Network, it's unlikely he would have received an offer of $4 million as a free agent. The agreement also gives Webster a year to show that 2012 was an aberration and sign a lucrative deal next offseason if he returns to form.
The move saves the Giants $3 million against the salary cap as they head toward the opening of free agency next week. According to the NFLPA website, the team also restructured David Baas' 2013 salary (and cap hit) from $4.25 million to $1.25 million, converting the $3 million into a bonus. Baas has three seasons remaining on his Giants contract, so the restructuring saves the team $2 million against the cap.
The NFL salary cap for 2013 will be $123 million. The Giants project to be about $9 million below it after those two moves plus the recent restructuring of Mathias Kiwanuka's contract (also a straight salary-to-bonus transaction) and the releases of Michael Boley, Chris Canty and Ahmad Bradshaw.
The Giants could find more room under the salary cap if they restructure cap-heavy contracts belonging to Eli Manning, Chris Snee and Antrel Rolle or negotiate a salary cut with David Diehl. Like Webster, Diehl is coming off a subpar season and heading into the final year of his contract. He is due to earn $4.475 million in base salary in 2013 plus another $350,000 in roster and workout bonuses.
ESPN reported earlier Thursday that the Giants were one of four teams to reach out to cornerback and former Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson since his release from the Packers. A source described that simply as "due diligence" on the Giants' part, and a pairing of the Giants and Woodson seems less likely now that Webster will be back in 2013.