Mathias Kiwanuka and Jon Beason: It’s Time to Let Go

The New York Giants are about to head into the 2015 offseason with a plethora of decisions to make. One of the first decisions that General Manager Jerry Reese has to make are who are going to be the “cap casualties”.

Currently, according to Over the Cap the Giants are projected to be about $16 million under the estimated cap for the 2015 offseason. Compared to recent years, that is decent amount of cap space for the Giants. That is over twice as much as they had the last two seasons.

That being said, Reese has some work to do in freeing up even more cap space for this offseason. While Reese and his staff evaluates the entire team, Mathias Kiwanuka and Jon Beason have to be at the top of list. The easiest decision that can be made between the two is cutting Kiwanuka.

Kiwanuka was a first round pick all the way back in 2006. Throughout his career, he has switched roles from being a 7-technique 4-3 defensive end to a stand up “Joker” role linebacker . As a Giant, he hasn’t been all that good, definitely not worth the first round pick selection.

Kiwanuka has battled through a bunch of injuries throughout his career, he had a fractured right fibula in the 2007 season and a herniated disc in his neck in 2010 both of which landed him on Injured Reserve. That is no excuse for his mediocre play throughout his whole career. The best season he had with the Giants was back in 2011 when he had career-high 62 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Since then it’s been a complete downfall for his career.

Since the 2011 season, Pro Football Focus has ranked Kiwanuka in the bottom half of 4-3 defensive ends and linebackers. In fact, the past two seasons have been absolutely horrid. In 2013 Kiwanuka finished with an overall grade of -31.5, that is good for 51st in the league for 4-3 DE’s. The funny part? He finished 51st out of the 52 players at the same position in the league. 2014 was no different for him, before he ended up on IR, he had an overall grade of -18.3 by week 12.

Though he was out for five weeks he still managed to finish as the 57th ranked 4-3 DE out of 59 players in the league. Just awful. This player somehow started all 12 weeks this season before getting injured. As soon as he left the lineup, the Giants defensive line was substantially better. By just purely watching a game, a person would be able to tell the difference between him being on and off the field.

Kiwanuka’s career is done and Reese needs to realize this. Kiwanuka is taking up an enormous amount of cap space for a player of his quality, $7.45 million. That is way too much money for a guy who should have been cut more than 3 years ago. Once Reese has to make the decision it should be pretty easy. Cut. Cutting him will save the Giants about $4.825 million towards the cap.

The Giants have great players behind him with an up and coming Damontre Moore, Robert Ayers, and a pleasant surprise of player in Kerry Wynn. This should help Reese along the process of cutting him.

Jon Beason. This will be a tough decision for Reese, Beason is a leader in the locker room and when he came to the Giants in the middle of 2013 he helped turn the defense around. The fact of the matter is that he’s old and injury prone. The most that Beason could offer the Giants at this point is leadership, his play isn’t up to snub with other players in the league.

In the 2013 season PFF ranked beason 48th out of 55 Middle Linebackers in the league. He had an overall PFF score of -11.0 with a -10.2 score in coverage. His leadership masked his subpar play throughout that season and that needs to be recognized. Leadership is important but that is not what should keep a player around on any team.

The worst part of Beason is his injuries, they have plagued Beason for his whole career. While Beason missed only one game as Giant in 2013, he ended up missing most of the 2014 season with a toe injury that he suffered after the week 2 game against the Cardinals. He also had a lingering foot injury that he suffered during OTA’s of the same year.

The one important quality Beason brought to the defense was leadership. The Giants have not had a true leader on defense since Strahan and Pierce were on the team. The Giants also might not resign Antrel Rolle during free agency which would leave a huge question mark for a leader on the defense. That being said, Jameel McClain is well liked by Giants players and the organization and could fill in both rolls as the starting Mic and as a leader.

If they do not want to the route of McClain, there are some upcoming free agents like Brandon Spikes that the Giants could target. Reese could also go the route of the draft and draft a guy like Denzel Perryman in the 2nd or 3rd round. Maybe the next Devon Kennard is in this draft, who knows.

The fact is that there are replacements for Beason. If the Giants designate Beason as a Post June 1st cut they will be able to save $4.325 million toward the cap. Beason is a fan favorite and some fans would be upset if the Giants let him go but it seems like the most logical thing to do.

With both of these players gone, the Giants would have about $25 million in cap space leaving Reese to go get at least one or two real quality players in free agency. Ultimately, cutting both Kiwanuka and Beason would be for the best interest for the Giants.

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