The Giants, wanting no questions or drama in regards to their specialist positions this summer, locked up the final piece Monday when they inked punter Brad Wing to a three-year, $6.45 million contract. Wing is also the holder on field goal and PATs.
The club nailed down placekicker Josh Brown with a two-year deal worth $4 million in April. Long snapper Zak DeOssie, who had not missed a game in his first eight seasons with the team but was limited to just 12 games last season due to a wrist injury, was brought back for another season with a deal worth $1.1 million.
So why did the Giants sign Wing, who was very average in his first year with the club? Simple: He may not have the strongest leg in the league, but he is exactly what the team was looking for in terms of establishing field position.
The club feels it is on the right track, and Wing, an Austrailian with just two NFL seasons under his belt, is on his way up. He has shown marked improvement in his directional punting this spring.
"He is better directionally than he was," special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said of Wing last month at minicamp. "He is doing more things with the ball coming off of his foot, so I have been very pleased with what he has done this spring, he has been very solid."
With all the changes swirling around the Giants this summer, special teams appears to be status quo for 2016. The only exception being the punt coverage, but with Wing a more experienced punter this year, and the Giants' overall talent level rising accross the board, that should be less of an issue this season.
Wing placed 33 of his 76 punts inside the 20 last season, good for fifth-highest in the NFL, tying Brad Maynard's team record set in 1997 and 1998. Wing had 10 touchbacks and 21 fair catches, but the Giants allowed 10 YPA on 54 returns, 10th-highest in the NFL, so work is still needed in that area.
Wing is the only punter the Giants plan on bringing to camp this month. Quinn said there was no need to worry about Wing bearing all of the burden in camp.
"We take it off of him," Quinn said. "We use the machines and when we go punt return, we use the jugs just to make sure that we are not overloading him."
Asked if the punting strategy will stay the same as last year, Quinn said there was no real need to change things up with Wing.
"If that is what he does best," he said, "then we are going to cater to what the players do best and let them be their best."
Brown was eager to return to the team, and the Giants are pleased that he has decided to return. He made 93.8 percent of field goals (30 for 32), breaking his own franchise record of 92.3 percent set in 2014. He has a 91.7 success rate in his first three seasons with the team, and his 30 field goals were fifth-most in franchise history for a single season.
Last season, Brown made all three of his attempts from 50 or more yards, including a pair of 53-yarders. That ties the Giants record for 50+-yard field goals with Jay Feely, Steve Christie and Joe Danelo. Brown's eight field goals of 50 or more yards for the Giants is the second-highest total in team history; Danelo had nine from 1976-82.
As for the returner position, Dwayne Harris is the primary kick returner but the punt return duties are up for grabs. With Rueben Randle gone, the Giants will have a new player in that role this season.
Don't count out Odell Beckham Jr., but it's unlikely the Giants will want to expose him on special teams. With all the young legs on the roster this season, there are plenty of options.