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Gunner Olszewski solidified Giants’ punt return situation in 2023

Did he do enough to earn a chance to come back in 2024?

Los Angeles Rams v New York Giants
Gunner Olszewski
Photo by Mike Lawrence/Getty Images

The New York Giants tried to get through the 2023-24 NFL season without a real return man. They signed Gunner Olszewski once the folly of that decision became obvious, and Olszewski’s play clearly showed the value of a dependable returner.

Should Olszewski return to the Giants for the 2024 season?

Reasons to keep Olszewski

The Giants began last season trying to force a square peg into a round hole, putting rookie running back Eric Gray into the role of punt and kickoff returner. That clearly did not work as Gray struggled with ball security, muffing three punts, while averaging only 4.0 yards on punt returns and 14.5 on kickoff returns.

Olszewski was signed when Gray was injured, and provided stability for the Giants as a returner. A career-long 94-yard punt return for a touchdown helped him average 11.9 yards on 23 punt returns. Most significantly, Olszewski never fumbled and his decision-making was solid.

The Giants also used Olszewski to catch kickoffs, not really to return them, over the final few games of the season. He never actually returned a kickoff for the Giants, though he did line up as the returner 26 times over the final five games.

Olszewski was also used occasionally as a gunner in punt coverage.

Reasons to let him go

There really aren’t a lot of reasons why the Giants shouldn’t bring the 27-year-old five-year veteran back, at least to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster.

If they find someone they believe can be more useful returning both kickoffs and punts, fine. Or a returner they feel can be of more value on offense.

The verdict

There is no reason why Olszewski shouldn’t be allowed to compete for a job in training camp.