When the New York Giants needed a placekicker a season ago it was a no-brainer for them to pursue veteran free agent Graham Gano. Not only had Gano been one of the league’s best kickers before a serious leg injury cost him the 2019 season, but he had done much of his best work with Thomas McGaughey as his special teams coach and Dave Gettleman as his GM.
So, with those two having moved on from the Carolina Panthers to the Giants, it was natural for them to turn to Gano after the team released Aldrick Rosas.
After some back-and-forth and a brief interlude with Chandler Catanzaro as the Giants’ kicker at the beginning of training camp, Gano came on board.
“That whole thing was a pretty easy decision for me,” McGaughey said near the end of last season. “It was more of a decision on his part than our part. Just kind of picking the team he wanted to go to.”
The Giants and Gano ended up glad they chose each other, leading to Gano signing a three-year contract to stay with the team. Let’s discuss Gano as we continue profiling the 90 players the Giants will bring to training camp this summer.
Contract: Year 1 of three-year, $14 million deal | Guaranteed: $9.5 million | 2021 cap hit: $4.275 million
Career to date
Gano began his career with Washington in 2009. In three seasons there, he made just 59 of 80 field goals (73.75 percent).
McGaughey often says that it takes talented young kickers time to figure out what they are hone their craft. He used to talk about that in reference to both Rosas and Giants punter Riley Dixon.
That proved true for Gano.
From 2012 to 2018 with Carolina, Gano made 165 of 193 field goals (85.5 percent), including 16 of 26 (61.5 percent) from beyond 50 yards.
With the Giants in 2020, Gano actually had the best season of his career. He made a Giants franchise record 20 consecutive field goals, made 31 of 32 (a career-best 96.9 percent) and had a Week 5 game vs. Dallas in which he kicked a franchise record three field goals of 50 yards or more (50, 54 and 55 yards). McGaughey called that “a pretty incredible feat.”
The Giants rewarded Gano with a three-year, $14 million contract ($9.5 million guaranteed).
“Any time you can secure that style of player, a Pro Bowl kicker like Graham Gano who has been in the 90th percentile and above two out of the last three years, anytime you can secure a guy like that, that’s what you want,” McGaughey said.
There is no real reason to expect anything other than excellence from the 34-year-old Gano in 2021. Over his last three seasons, he has made 74 of 78 field goals (94.9 percent). He is obviously still outstanding from long range, making five of six kicks from beyond 50 yards last season.
As long as Gano remains healthy, the Giants should not have to worry about their placekicking situation in 2021.