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Giants Free Agency 2012: Salary Cap Primer

If Jerry Reese hadn't been here before, the New York Giants' offseason would appear significantly more daunting.

Fresh off a Super Bowl XLII victory in 2008, the Giants entered the following offseason with key contributors such as Kawika Mitchell, Gibril Wilson and Derrick Ward entering free agency. Only Ward returned to the team the following season, and that was his final season in New York.

This offseason, Reese faces questions regarding 24 players headed for free agency. Chief among those names are wide receiver Mario Manningham, tight end Jake Ballard, right tackle Kareem McKenzie and cornerbacks Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross. Reese has preached patience and balance as principals for his offseason approach, and Giants fans would be hard pressed to argue with his results. Of course, that didn't prevent any of the uproar that ensued once Reese let the likes of Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert, Steve Smith and Kevin Boss walk prior to this season.

Fortunately for the Giants and their fans, it all seemed to work out.

Free agency period: March 13, 4 p.m. ET - July 22 (the first scheduled day of NFL training camps)

Salary cap: $120,600,000 per team

Giants cap situation: According to ProFootballTalk.com, $3.8 million over at 4:00 p.m. ET on Friday, March 9. After cutting running back Brandon Jacobs (reportedly saving the team $5 million) and collecting the $1.6 million the NFL is distributing to most teams after the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins were penalized a combined $46 million in cap space after piling money into last season's uncapped year, that number could be lowered.

Exclusive Rights Free Agents (2):

TE Jake Ballard - Signed one-year contract
TE Bear Pascoe

Restricted Free Agents (1):

CB Bruce Johnson - Signed one-year contract

Unrestricted Free Agents (21)

QB David Carr

WR Michael Clayton

WR Domenik Hixon

WR Mario Manningham

WR Devin Thomas

OT Stacy Andrews

OT Kareem McKenzie

OT Tony Ugoh

DE Dave Tollefson

DT Rocky Bernard

DT Jimmy Kennedy

LB Chase Blackburn

LB Jonathan Goff

CB Will Blackmon

CB Michael Coe

CB Aaron Ross

CB Terrell Thomas

CB Justin Tryon

S Deon Grant

S Derrick Martin - reportedly unlikely to be re-signed

P Steve Weatherford - franchise tagged for approximately $2.5 million