Giants Hit Bowl Despite Low Payroll


Tuesday, February 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


Success in the NFL isn't always the result of big spending. Just look at the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins.

The Giants went to the Super Bowl last season with the third-lowest payroll in the league — $57.3 million, more than 40 percent less than the Redskins spent to finish third in the NFC East.

The figures, first reported by USA Today and released Tuesday by the NFL Players Association, show that the Redskins, not unexpectedly, led the NFL in spending last season with $92.4 million in salaries and bonuses. Owner Daniel Snyder loaded up on big-name veterans such as Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders and Jeff George.

Baltimore, which beat the Giants 34-7 in the Super Bowl, was second, spending $90.7 million.

The figures show how confusing the NFL's salary cap can be.

Of the 31 NFL teams, 18 exceeded last season's cap of $62 million, including the Cincinnati Bengals, considered to be one of the league's cheapest teams. The Bengals' payroll was $68.6 million, or $6 million over the cap.

Of the 12 playoff teams, eight were in the top half in payroll. The Giants, Denver, Minnesota and New Orleans were the only ones in the bottom half.

The free-agent period begins March 2 and teams are supposed to be at or below the salary cap, which will be around $67 million this season. The salary figures do not represent the cap figures but a team that spent a lot is liable to have more cap problems

``It's an ever-changing scenario,'' says Ernie Accorsi, general manager of the Giants, who is planning to spend major money to re-sign cornerback Jason Sehorn and running back Tiki Barber, by far the two most important of New York's free agents. Sehorn, whose salary last year was $5.6 million, already is the NFL's best-paid cornerback.

Last year, the Giants went cheap in free agency and scored big, getting three starters on the offensive line — Lomas Brown, Glenn Parker and Dusty Ziegler — plus linebacker Mike Barrow and cornerback Dave Thomas. All but Ziegler had been cut by their previous teams for cap reasons.

They also are interested in Ronde Barber, Tiki's brother, who fits their need for a quick cornerback who can cover man-to-man. But the Bucs, who were sixth in salaries last year at $76.8 million, may not be able to pay Ronde as much.

Baltimore, meanwhile, seems reconciled to losing outside linebacker Jamie Sharper, whose skills are sometimes overlooked because he plays alongside Ray Lewis.

And Washington, with its huge payroll, may have to release some players before the start of free agency, perhaps defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield, who is at the end of a long-term contract and earned $3.7 million last year, all of it charged against the cap.