Kyle Lauletta was once seen as a possible quarterback of the future for the Giants.
Now he is a former one.
The fourth-round draft pick from a year ago was among the 32 players the Giants parted ways with on Saturday to reach a 53-man roster by the 4 p.m. deadline. The team decided to keep three quarterbacks – starter Eli Manning, rookie Daniel Jones, and veteran backup Alex Tanney – which left no room on the active roster for Lauletta.
The quarterback from Richmond helped the Giants orchestrate an exciting comeback win over the Patriots in the preseason finale on Thursday night. He threw the game-winning touchdown with no time left on the clock. Less than 48 hours after the walk-off victory he was walked off the roster.
“I feel like I put four solid games together,” Lauletta said of his preseason after the Patriots game. “It wasn’t just that game. I felt like the three games previous to that, I played well and did what I needed to do. That’s all I was looking for. Like I said, I wasn’t worried about any of that [roster] stuff. I was just trying to go out there and win the game.”
Lauletta becomes the first prominent player drafted by general manager Dave Gettleman and then cut by him. The Giants also waived a seventh-rounder from this year’s draft class, defensive lineman Chris Slayton.
"Ron Rivera used to kid me and would say, ‘Well, it’s easy for you, you didn’t draft these guys. Wait until you have to do that to a guy that you drafted,’” Gettleman said earlier this summer, referring to his days running [and gutting] the Panthers. “That turned out to be hard, but you have to do it."
Of course, Gettleman helped facilitate his own decision on Lauletta in April when he selected Jones sixth overall. From that point on, Lauletta’s path to make the team was up a fairly steep incline. Lauletta was the fourth-string quarterback throughout training camp and in the preseason games.
“I said it last week, it’s a credit to Kyle the way he came in here every day and worked to get better and competed after we drafted Daniel,” Shurmur said on Saturday. “Not every guy would respond that way, and Kyle improved as a result. So there was a lot to consider in that decision, but ultimately we decided to go with Tanney.”
Cutting Lauletta was one of the biggest surprises among the Giants’ long but not-very-surprising list of moves. They also parted ways with Chad Wheeler, who started 14 games at right tackle last year but missed time this summer with a back injury. He was waived/injured, along with linebacker Keion Adams (knee), defensive back Kenny Ladler (hamstring), tackle Victor Salako (shoulder), defensive back Henre’ Toliver (ankle), wide receiver Alex Wesley (foot/ankle), and defensive back Ronald Zamort (ankle).
The Giants wound up not keeping a single undrafted rookie free agent. Ten draft picks in the spring will do that. Teams can begin signing players to their practice squad on Sunday, and if they clear waivers the Giants may bring a number of those rookies back in that capacity.
Besides the 32 cuts, they placed linebacker Jonathan Anderson (knee), offensive tackle and 2019 seventh-round pick George Asafo-Adjei (concussion), wide receiver Brittan Golden (calf), tight end Scott Simonson (ankle) and running back Rod Smith (adductor) on injured reserve. They are not eligible to return to the Giants this season, but could possibly receive an injury settlement and play elsewhere.
The Giants also put wide receiver Golden Tate on the suspended list for four weeks for a violation of the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs and waived S Kamrin Moore, who had not counted against the 90-man roster, from the commissioner’s exempt list.
Perhaps the bigger shockers were some who stuck around on the team, including Tanney, running back Paul Perkins (who likely benefitted from Rod Smith’s injury), and linebacker B.J. Goodson whose strong performance in the preseason finale might have earned him more time with the Giants. There is still a week to go until the opener, though, and the Giants showed last year that they are willing to be active on the waiver wire in the aftermath of cutdowns.
“We are in the second year of building the kind of team we all want,” Shurmur said. “The process never stops.”