Dwayne Harris is one of the best all-around special teams players in the NFL and was named to the Pro Bowl last season for the first time in his six-year NFL career. The honor, though, seemed more like a career achievement award for Harris as he endured a physically painful, largely unproductive season for the New York Giants.
Can Harris, who turns 30 in September, bounce back? Let’s take a closer look as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.
2016 Season In Review
Harris averaged only 5.9 yards on punt returns, the worst of his career since he became a full-time returner in 2012 and more than four yards below his 2015 average. His average of 24.2 yards per kickoff return was also more than four yards below what he had done for the Giants in 2015.
The Giants also barely used Harris as a wide receiver. One year after establishing a career high with 36 receptions, Harris had only one catch (for a touchdown) and played only 58 offensive snaps.
Did Harris lose a step? Maybe. Perhaps injuries, though, were the biggest reason for his struggles. Harris dealt with a myriad of physical ailments in 2016 — toe, ankle, wrist, back and knee among them.
2017 Season Outlook
Harris took a pay cut to remain with the Giants that reduced his 2017 base salary from $2.975 million to $2.475 million. Entering the third year of his five-year, $17.5 million contract, Harris might need a good season to return to the Giants in 2018. The Giants could save roughly $2.4 million against the cap in 2018 and $3.2 million in 2019 by cutting Harris after this season, so it stands to reason that his production will have to increase if he hopes to stick around.
The Giants would like to see Harris re-emerge as a force in the return game. Harris’ toughness is well-known, as he constantly bounces back fro hits that would sideline other players. Toughness, though, isn’t enough. The Giants need something closer to the 10.0 yards per punt return and 28.7 yards per kickoff return Harris averaged in 2015. Does he still possess the elusiveness to be an elite return man?
The Giants hope the answer will be a yes.
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