If the message wasn't clear when the Giants cut punter Steve Weatherford on Friday, the team doubled down on it Saturday, when the final cuts came down the line: Just having a history with the Giants isn't enough to have a future with them.

The Giants showed there's no room for sentimentality as they cut their roster to 53, dispensing with a fan favorite (fullback Henry Hynoski), last year's leading tackler (linebacker Jameel McClain) and the team's preseason leader in receptions (James Jones).

The Giants have 16 players on their roster who didn't play a single snap in 2014. Only five players remain from the team that won the Super Bowl after the 2011 season.

"You wouldn't think that a team who won six games would stay where they are," Tom Coughlin said in a roundup released by the team. "Well, they're not. You have to try another direction . . . You do need the constant [roster turnover]. It happens naturally, but it's a constant as you try and improve."

Still, as he waved goodbye to Hynoski and Weatherford, who were on the team since 2011, Coughlin acknowledged it was a difficult day.

Other cuts included cornerback Chykie Brown, safety Jeromy Miles, who injured his groin in practice last week, and linebacker Ashlee Palmer. Thirteen players were waived, including tight end Adrien Robinson, who was chosen in the fourth round of the 2012 draft.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

(Vested veterans are cut and immediately become free agents. Players with three years or less are waived and do not become free agents until they go through waivers.)

"[The emotions] are all the same, because inevitably there are guys, I don't give a damn who you are, you become attached to them," Coughlin said. "They're part of your landscape. To have some of these guys that have been here, and been through some of the really good times, to have them go, it's not easy."

Hynoski played 46 regular-season games and four playoff games with the Giants but at times struggled to stay healthy. McClain signed with the team last year and played all 16 games, with 14 starts, including nine at middle linebacker when Jon Beason was injured.

"Everybody loves Henry," Coughlin said. "Henry is a very positive young man. He's upbeat. He always has and always will do whatever you want him to do . . . [And McClain was] another one that was tough."

McClain's release is notable in that it facilitates the retention of middle linebacker Uani' Unga, who made the Giants after signing with the practice squad last year. It might signal the return of Beason, who missed most of last season with a foot injury and has been working to be ready for Week 1 after surgery on it in the offseason.

Giants videos

Of Unga, Coughlin said: "You definitely do see the potential. He can run, he's physical, he's got some skill. He's got a deep skill level. He's got a lot to learn about the position."

The team kept all six of last year's draft choices and introduced three undrafted long shots into the fold: Unga, who led the Giants during the preseason with 24 tackles; tight end Jerome Cunningham and fullback Nikita Whitlock, a defensive tackle on special teams.

"Without a doubt, they flashed," Coughlin said. "They flashed and they followed through. It's not all the finished product by any means, but they are young and they do play hard."

He also praised another recent addition, punter Brad Wing, whom the Giants acquired from the Steelers to replace Weatherford.

He's "left-footed, hang, distance and location," Coughlin said. "He punted for a season and had the kind of things that we would like to be able to do in terms of directional punting and all that stuff."