Coming into the off season, Giants were sitting on a boatload of salary cap space and when they cut Beatty and Schwartz, they opened up even more cap space. As fans, we all looked at the enormous number - estimated at around $57M and salivated like Pavlov's dogs at feeding time imagining all the players NYG could "buy" with all that cap space. In the first wave of FA buying, the Giants didn't sit idle; Reese went out and bought four premium (we hope) players for the defense. After those acquisitions, the Giants still had somewhere around $22-25M in cap space to spend. That's a fairly hefty upper limit on the credit card, and we fans were hoping that they would bring in a S, one or two OL-men, a WR and maybe even a LB. Just some back of the envelope calculations - NYG needs to save about $6M for the rookie pool, so for that approximately remaining $16-19M we could have filled some of those needs with some pretty good players. What's the point of having the salary cap space if you're not going to use it?
I think the takeaway from this approach and from the fact that NYG did not spend all the cap money they had is that this was an organizational decision coming directly from the owners. They imposed a strategy on the team as an organization and are clearly adding a business filter on player acquisition. When I say business approach, I am not just talking about saving money and limiting its spending; I am referring to organic growth of the team and the organization as a business over a several year time frame, not just tactical, immediate success in one particular year. While we as fans only care about win-now, the owners care about sustained success.
Mara very famously and publicly said the roster was deficient of talent and it's up to Jerry Reese to fix it. This is clearly a make or break year for Reese. Mara gave him some rope to play with and let him sign some players to jump start the reload, but Mara wants to see the full body of work and the overall roster construction before he gives Reese all $57M in cap space to spend. Mara wants to save some cash and cap space for next year. If Giants under-spend this year, they can carry some of the unused cap space over to next year. If Reese's FA players don't work out and if his draft is not good, that unused, carried-over cap space will be available for the next GM to use. I think that also is the reason Giants did not sign a veteran S and are whispering that the roster currently has three young S on it, one of who they expect to emerge as an NFL caliber starter. That seems rather hopeful and not necessarily practical, doesn't it? Let's not forget - this is a test for Reese and Mara may be genuinely unsure if Reese is the long term GM. He wants him to succeed of course. But if he fails, he needs to have an alternative plan so the franchise doesn't go down in flames next year also, if Reese's acquisitions this year prove flawed. It is likely that Reese had told Mara that his drafts were good and were hurt by injuries, some of whom were the S that were drafted last 2 years: Berhe, Taylor, Jackson and Thompson. No doubt, Mara is responding - if your drafts were so good and if you think one of these S will emerge, then don't sign one now and let's see if they really do work out as you promised. If they do - great for NYG and Reese. If they don't work out, it might be another black mark on the debit side of Reese's ledger.
Obviously, this upcoming draft is really important for Reese.