Let's look at Beatty's contract first (who I mockingly have referred to this season as Will "Beat Me"):
|Source: Will Beatty's salary cap page courtesy of OverTheCap.com|
The Giants would actually lose cap space if they released Beatty in standard fashion next year; however, if they make him a June 1st cut in the 2015 off-season, then that would be the earliest that they would be able to divest themselves of him, and gain cap space instead of losing it, which is what occurs when cutting players early on after they've signed a new contract. In such a scenario, the Giants would gain $3,050,000 in cap room in 2015, spreading out Dead money on the books in two year: $2,500,000 in 2014, & $5,000,000 in 2015.
The scenario outlined above would be the first and earliest exit strategy away from Beatty, and would only occur if Beatty is an absolute wreck and waste of space cap-wise and roster-wise. He would basically have to turn into the Left Tackle version of Rick Ankiel (Ankiel was a baseball pitcher who suddenly began throwing wild pitches all over the place and never regained his previous form).
While a critic of Beatty's, I acknowledge that he isn't a complete waste of a roster spot---yet. I'd give him the next two years, and see what return the Giants could get on their investment. If he completely tanks, then you use the strategy above. If he's bad as opposed to embarrassingly bad, and you have a replacement on roster (a first round pick in 2014 in this scenario), then I'd keep him through 2015 after he's had a chance to compete for his job one last time.
A more reasonable approach would be to cut him after the 2015 season. As a normal cut that year, the Giants would stand to gain $4,175,000 in cap room for 2016 with $5 million remaining on the cap accounting books as Dead Money in one shot through the 2016 season.
Another way to do it would be to cut him after the 2015 season, not as a normal cut, but as a post-June 1st cut. In that scenario, the Giants would gain $6,675,000 in cap room for the 2016 season, leaving Dead Money to be spread out over the next two years, instead of just one, in the amounts of $2.5 million in 2016 & another $2.5 million in 2017.
Here's the bottom line: you don't reinforce a mistake by not seizing the opportunity to grab a quality left Tackle in the first round of the 2014 draft approximately 4 and a half months from now. You're not married to Beatty in a cap sense for any longer than a year at minimum (probably two). If the tackle is there, and he is the best player available that fits a need, then you take him. Let Beatty compete, and prove his worth. If he fails, then you can get rid of him after the 2014 or 2015 seasons.
Keep in mind that the Giants can also use Pugh's versatility on the OL, just as Diehl's was used throughout his career (especially in his earlier years). You could take advantage of Pugh's versatility, and move him to Guard for a year, or longer (keep in mind Pugh played Left Tackle throughout most of his collegiate career at Syracuse), in case you need to get by for a season with the draft pick and Beatty playing opposite each other at the two Tackle positions. Of course, it would be better to leave Pugh alone at RT, but I'm throwing that option out there since the Giants did when they drafted him. Hopefully Pugh stays right where he is.
Beatty's going to be here on the roster for at least another year--probably two--but this does not mean that you use his cap hit as a crux to handing him a job that he never really earned in the first place due to the lack of competition that he had at Left Tackle from within the roster, the high price of other starting Left Tackles in Free Agency in 2012, and the Giants' overall woes elsewhere on their OL at the conclusion of the 2012 season. That's basically the whole "you are on this council, but we do not grant you the rank of master" argument that Star Wars geeks are familiar with regarding young emo Anakin Skywalker.
Beatty is on this roster, but it doesn't mean he has to be handed a starting job just because of of his high cap number. This is especially dangerous since Beatty protects Eli's blind side. This is an issue that will be worth keeping an eye on going forward, especially if the Giants actually do go ahead and draft a Left Tackle (or even a Right Tackle in case Pugh is moved to OLT) in the first or second round of the upcoming draft in May of 2014.