Weatherford, who will be entering his sixth year in the NFL in 2011, was the fifth-ranked punter in the league a season ago according to Pro Football Focus. PFF gave Weatherford a +13.4 rating.
The Giants, of course, found out last season just how difficult life can be without a reliable punter. After years of having Jeff Feagles, possibly the best directional punter in NFL history, the Giants suffered through the growing pains and inconsistency of rookie punter Matt Dodge a season ago. Dodge, of course, is most noted for kicking a ball to Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson on the final play of a game at New Meadowlands Stadium that the Eagles speedster turned into a game-winning touchdown. Dodge had been instructed to kick the ball out of bounds.
Pro Football Focus ranked Dodge 30th among 31 punters who played in at least 12 games in 2010-2011 with a -3.8 score. Dodge used his strong leg to average 44.7 yards per punt, but his other measurables were well below those posted by Weatherford.
Let's do a side-by-side comparison of Dodge and Weatherford in 2010, using numbers from Pro Football Focus.
- Overall Rating: Weatherford, +13.4 (5th overall); Dodge -3.8 (30th overall)
- Avg. Yards Per Kick: Weatherford, 42.9, Dodge 44.7
- Percent of Kicks Returned: Weatherford 32.1 Percent, Dodge 50 Percent
- Net Yards Average: Weatherford 37.9, Dodge 34.8
- Kicks Inside The 20: Weatherford 42, Dodge 23
- Kicks Fair Caught: Weatherford 27, Dodge 7
- Return Yards Allowed: Weatherford 299, Dodge 536
The Giants, of course, kept Dodge despite his struggles because they -- rightly -- believe he has the potential to become a quality NFL kicker. Big Blue has not made the playoffs in two seasons, however, and found out the hard way last season just how much inconsistent punting can cost a team. It certainly is not fair to blame Dodge for the Giants missing the playoffs a season ago, but the punting woes did not help.The Giants stuck with Dodge throughout last season because there really weren't any quality options available as free agents during the season.
With Weatherford and other veterans on the market that won't be the case in 2011. After bouncing through four teams in five seasons Weatherford is likely hoping for a decent payday, at least by punting standards. It might not be a bad idea for the Giants to give him one.
Besides, there is always the added bonus of tweaking the Jets a little with a move like this.