Steve Weatherford is one of the most popular members of the New York Giants, one of the NFL's best punters and author of one of the most explicit, enjoyable 'going to the Super Bowl' celebrations of all time.
There is also a possibility he could be an ex-Giant. Popularity and past performance not with-standing, the NFL can be a cruel business. The free agency signing period begins on March 10, and between now and then you will hear a great deal about players being cut or asked/forced to re-structure contracts to clear salary cap space for their respective employers.
Dan Graziano of ESPN included Weatherford in a list of potential Giants salary cap cuts. He wasn't wrong in doing so. The other four players on Graziano's list -- Mathias Kiwanuka, Jon Beason, Cullen Jenkins and J.D. Walton -- are more obvious, and maybe more palatable -- but Weatherford's inclusion makes sense.
Weatherford re-structured his contract a year ago, and Graziano writes that "he will likely be asked to do so again if he wants to stay." Weatherford has two years and $6.3 million left on his deal. His cap number for 2015 is $3.075 million. Over The Cap lists Weatherford as the 13th-highest paid punter in the NFL. The Giants could save $1.325 million against the cap by cutting Weatherford prior to June 1, and $2.2 million by designating him a post-June 1 cut, according to Over The Cap.
The Giants last month signed journeyman punter Robert Malone to a reserve/futures contract. Malone has kicked in 31 NFL games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions and New York Jets, although none last year and only two in 2013. His presence, though, likely not only protects the Giants after Weatherford played through serious leg injuries last season, but also gives them a bit of leverage should they approach Weatherford about a re-structure.
Weatherford loves being a Giant, that much is obvious. The Giants, for their part, love being associated with people who represent the organization the way Weatherford does. It is hard to imagine the two sides not working something out, if Weatherford's contract becomes an issue in the first place.
This, however, is one worth keeping an eye on over the next few weeks.