Mar 082019
 
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Kevin Zeitler, Cleveland Browns (December 24, 2017)

Kevin Zeitler – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS TRADE OLIVIER VERNON FOR KEVIN ZEITLER
The New York Giants have traded linebacker Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns for offensive guard Kevin Zeitler. In addition, the Giants and Browns swapped mid-round picks, with the Giants sending a 4th-round (132nd overall) selection for the Browns’ 5th-round (155th overall) selection.

Vernon was scheduled to earn $15.25 million in salary in both 2019 and 2020, and count $19.5 million against the 2019 NFL salary cap. The trade will reportedly net the Giants $1.5 million in 2019 salary cap room as trading Vernon “saved” the Giants $11.5 million while the team now takes on Zeitler’s $10 million 2019 salary. Overall, the Giants absorbed $8 million in dead money from Vernon by trading him.

The 29-year old, 6’4”, 315-pound Zeitler was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He signed a 5-year, $60 million contract with the Browns in March 2017, which at the time made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL. In seven seasons, Zeitler has started 103 of the 104 regular-season games he has played in, not missing a start in the last four seasons. Zeitler has good size and is a consistently solid run and pass blocker.

Vernon’s first three seasons with the Giants were sabotaged due to nagging injuries, including a high ankle sprain in 2018 that caused him to miss the first five games of the season. Vernon started the remaining 11 games, accruing 30 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 pass defense, and 1 forced fumble. Despite the missed time and subpar tackle production, Vernon played in the Pro Bowl as a first alternate.

Vernon was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Dolphins. The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2016 to a 5-year, $85 million contract. Although Vernon played in all 16 regular-season games in 2016, a serious left hand/wrist injury affected his play. In 2017, he missed four games with an ankle injury that also continued to be a factor in other games. An undersized but athletic defensive end, the Giants shifted him to linebacker in 2018 to fit their new 3-4 scheme.

NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN JON HALAPIO
The New York Giants have re-signed exclusive rights free agent center Jon Halapio, who won the starting center job in 2018, but was lost early when he was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2018 after breaking his ankle and lower leg in the second game of the season. The injuries required surgery.

Halapio was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He has bounced around different leagues and teams including the Patriots (2014), Boston Brawlers (2014), Denver Broncos (2014–2015), Arizona Cardinals (2015), Brooklyn Bolts (2015), and Patriots (2016) again. The Giants signed Halapio to their Practice Squad in 2016 and 2017. The Giants then added him to the 53-man roster in October 2017 and he played in 10 games, starting the last six at right guard.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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