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Weatherford gets long-term deal

Quarterback Eli Manning of the New York Giants

Quarterback Eli Manning of the New York Giants celebrates with Steve Weatherford after his first quarter touchdown pass to Victor Cruz against the New England. (Feb. 5, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

Steve Weatherford has gone from a punter with a franchise tag to the Giants’ franchise punter. He agreed to a five-year deal on Friday that could be worth $12.75 million, meaning that he’ll be punting for the Giants for many seasons to come.

The Giants had applied the franchise tag to Weatherford at the start of free agency to keep him off the open market, but both sides made it clear they would continue to negotiate on a long-term deal.

Weatherford was added to the team last summer to compete with Matt Dodge for the punting job. Dodge was a 2010 draft pick but had some ignominious moments as a rookie, including several dropped snaps and a punt that was returned for a touchdown by DeSean Jackson of the Eagles. Weatherford, who had been with the Saints and Jets previously, signed a one-year deal for 2011 and won the job.

In his first season with the Giants, Weatherford was 14th in the NFL with a 45.7-yard gross average and 13th with a 39.2-yard net average on 82 punts. The 45.7-yard gross average was the second-highest single-season average in Giants history, surpassed only by Don Chandler’s 46.-6-yard average in 1969 (minimum 35 punts). Weatherford dropped 25 punts inside the 20-yard line, including five in a victory at New England on Nov. 6.

He also punted 12 times in the Giants’ NFC Championship Game victory in San Francisco, tying David Lee of the Baltimore Colts (in a 1977 AFC Divisional Playoff) for the second-highest total in NFL postseason history. The record of 14 was set by Jets punter – and former Giant – Dave Jennings in a 1986 divisional playoff game. The former Giants postseason record was 11 punts by Brad Maynard against the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV.

Weatherford’s 557 punting yards vs. the 49ers easily outdistanced the former postseason record of 422, set by Maynard in the Super Bowl 11 years ago. He was also the holder on the game-winning field goal by Lawrence Tynes in that game.

He got a little excited when it went trhough the uprights.


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