Should the Giants Pursue Graham Gano?

Patricia Traina

Up until recently, the New York Giants were somewhat spoiled when it came to the placekicker position in that it was not only a position they didn’t have to worry about, it was also one in which the players who filled the role were as reliable as the day is long.

But ever since Josh Brown’s domestic violence history came to light in 2016, the Giants haven’t been as fortunate with kickers. Brown was cut by the team, who replaced him with Robbie Gould, the long-time Bears kicker who was not kept after the 2015 season. 

Gould then signed a multiyear deal with the 49ers in 2017, and the Giants turned to Aldrick Rosas, a relatively untested and young kicker with a strong leg whose first year in New York was one to forget.

Rosas seemed to quell concerns about the kicking position when in 2018, he went on to have one of the best seasons by a franchise kicker, converting 97% of his field-goal attempts (32 out of 33). 

In 2019, he returned to his 2017 form, which created questions about his long-term future. Those questions were never answered as thanks to an alleged hit-and-run in which Rosas was charged with three misdemeanors (including driving on a suspended license), the Giants released Rosas. 

Since then, they reportedly agreed to terms with Chandler Catanzaro, who had last played for the Jets before deciding to retire last August.

But comes word that Graham Gano, a kicker with whom Giants general manager Dave Gettleman and special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey are both familiar from their days in Carolina, is available. Should the Giants, who as of this writing haven’t made it official with Catanzaro, reverse course?

Gano, who missed last year with a knee injury, lost his spot to joey Slye, a kicker who had a cup of coffee with the Giants in 2018. Giants fans will probably remember Gano breaking their heart in 2018 with his 63-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.  

But let’s look at the production of both kickers. In his six-year career, Catanzaro, who had his best season in 2015 with the Cardinals when he converted 90.3% of his field-goal attempts, has a lifetime conversion rate of 119 of 143 field goals (83.2%). That includes 44 of 62 (70.9%) on attempts of 40+ yards and 10 of 16 (62.5%) on 50+-yard attempts. 

Gano, a 10-year veteran, is 224 of 273 in field goal conversion (82% conversion rate), his best season coming in 2017 when he converted 29 of 30 field-goal tries (96.7%). On his long-distance (40+ yards) attempts, Gano is 97 of 135 (71.8%) in his career, including 20 of 35 (57.1%) on 50+ yard attempts.

Those numbers put both kickers even. So that warrants asking two questions.

First, are the Giants planning to carry a second kicker on the practice squad in case the one they carry on the 53-man roster is exposed to COVIF-19? And if they go that route, does it make more sense to pick up a younger kicker who can potentially develop into the long-time rock that the Giants enjoyed for years right up through the Lawrence Tynes era?

The answer to the second question is yes. One on-going competition they might want to be paying attention to is the one going on in Indianapolis where rookie Rodrigo Blankenship is battling with second-year man Chase McLaughlin for the right to kick in the post-Adam Vinatieri era. 

If that competition turns out to be a close one, then don’t be surprised if the Giants, as they did in 2018 when at cutdown day they traded a conditional draft pick to the Broncos to acquire punter Riley Dixon, do the same thing in trying to land their long-term kicker of the future.   

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