Giants release veteran punter Steve Weatherford

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The New York Giants released popular punter Steve Weatherford on Friday and acquired Brad Wing in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The moves came days after coach Tom Coughlin suggested neither Weatherford nor free agent Robert Malone would be his punter this season.

Malone was cut Tuesday, hours after Coughlin spoke. Weatherford, a key member of the Giants' Super Bowl champions in February 2012, was released hours after punting in the preseason finale against the New England Patriots.

Weatherford's release will save the team money. He was to earn $3.075 million, while Wing, a former teammate of Odell Beckham Jr., at LSU will get $510,000.

Coughlin said it was difficult saying goodbye to Weatherford.

''He has been an exceptional human being in what he has contributed to the New York Giants on the football field and what he has done in the community when he represents (the team),'' said Coughlin, noting the 32-year-old had a unique ability to touch people in all walks of life.

However, Coughlin hasn't been happy with Weatherford the past two years. The coach wanted his punts to land between the numbers and the sideline. It wasn't happening as often as Coughlin wanted.

Weatherford, who joined the Giants in 2011, also had a run-in with special teams coordinator Tom Quinn.

Coughlin refused to say what he liked about Wing. He said Weatherford was evaluated from the first day of training camp and the release was what he felt was best for the team.

Weatherford played in all 16 games last season, averaging 45.5 yard with a 38.6 net. He landed 25 punts inside the 20-yard line and had six touchbacks. One punt was returned for a touchdown last year. The previous year, three were returned for scores. He also was the holder on kicks.

''A guy like Steve, that's a great leader, a great mentor for a lot of people that come into this organization, that's a very unfortunate situation for us,'' said receiver Rueben Randle, who also played at LSU with Wing.

The Steelers received a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2016 from the Giants for Wing, who averaged 48.8 yards on 12 punts in the preseason. He averaged 43.7 yards with a 38.8 net in 16 games with the Steelers last season.

''He's a great guy, as well, very strong leg, very good at placing the ball where he wants to,'' Randle said.

Jordan Berry beat out Wing for the Steelers punting job.

Weatherford, known in the area for his charity work, was one of the fittest members of the team. He also had a large following on social media, although some of his videos from the locker room were not appreciated by Coughlin.

NOTES: Offensive lineman Brett Jones sustained a knee injury in the win over the Patriots on Thursday. ...Coughlin refused to say whether safety Cooper Taylor played well enough to land a starting job at safety next to rookie Landon Collins, who played well in making four tackles. Collins is looking forward to the regular season opener at Dallas on Sept. 13. ''(I am) just ready to dominate and get the W with the team and go on to the next game.'' ...Guard Justin Pugh on playing next to rookie Ereck Flowers, the left tackle. ''He's definitely is a very focused guy. I can already tell he's getting ready to go. He's sitting in the cold tub right now.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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