4:36pm: Kiwanuka’s release was listed with a failed physical designation, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.
3:04pm: The Giants have confirmed Kiwanuka’s release via a press release.
2:23pm: The Giants will release veteran defender Mathias Kiwanuka, according to Kimberly Jones of the NFL Network (Twitter link). The 31-year-old had been with New York for each of his nine seasons in the NFL, winning two Super Bowls during that time.
Kiwanuka has shown a great deal of versatility in his career, spending time at both defensive end and outside linebacker in the Giants’ 4-3 scheme. He’s played at end the prior two seasons, racking up 8.5 sacks in 21 starts in that span. The former first-round pick has nearly 40 sacks in 82 starts during his career. Advanced metrics have soured on Kiwanuka’s performance, as Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked him as the third-worst 4-3 DE in the league last season.
Entering the final year of his contract, Kiwanuka was scheduled to count $7.45MM against New York’s cap in 2015. By cutting him, the Giants are now only on the hook for his prorated bonus money, meaning they’ve saved $4.825MM in the process. According to Over the Cap’s data, the club should now have roughly $25MM in cap space.
Kiwanuka will now join a free agent edge defender market that is flush with talented options. As a veteran player who has dealt with injuries (he ended last season on injured reserve), he could have trouble garnering any type of significant guarantees in free agency. The Giants, meanwhile, probably aren’t done making moves, as Dan Graziano of ESPN.com speculated yesterday that Big Blue could look into releasing J.D. Walton and/or Jon Beason.