Eyes widened when the Giants signed Dwayne Harris in 2015, as they gave him a five-year, $17.5 million contract and guaranteed him $7.1 million, a nice chunk of change for a player who made his reputation on special teams.
Harris made it through three years of the deal until his time with the Giants came to an end Thursday, when his contract was terminated, an expected move that saves the team $2.45 million on this year’s salary cap.
Harris, 30, played his first four NFL seasons with the Cowboys and wore down the past few years, beset by nagging ailments that often forced him to limp off the field, only to return later in the game, a tribute to his toughness.
As a receiver, Harris contributed 37 receptions for 409 yards in his three seasons. He had a total of only one catch the past two seasons and played in only five games in 2017 before fracturing his foot in Week 5 against the Chargers. Receiver Brandon Marshall, another player lost in that game — he went down with an ankle injury that needed surgery — is also in danger of becoming a salary-cap casualty. The Giants would save $5.1 million on the cap by jettisoning Marshall. It is more likely that the Giants will ask Marshall to take a pay cut and have him compete for a spot this summer.
Harris’ best work came as a return man, but he regressed badly in his production. He is the third player in Giants history with a kickoff and punt return for a touchdown in the same season — the first to do it in 60 years. He is the first Giants player to score a touchdown on a punt return, on a kickoff return and with a reception in the same season. The signing of receiver and special teamer Cody Latimer made Harris expendable.
This continues a trend with Dave Gettleman, the new general manager, as he purges the roster of players who were part of last season’s 3-13 team. Gettleman on Thursday traded Jason Pierre-Paul to the Buccaneers and earlier this offseason cut punter Brad Wing and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He also did not pursue several of the Giants’ own free agents, such as Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Devon Kennard and D.J. Fluker.
Giants release Dwayne Harris
The Giants opened Thursday by trading defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to the Buccaneers and they said farewell to another veteran in the afternoon.
Cheap Giants jerseys announced that they have released wide receiver/kick returner Dwayne Harris. The move clears $2.45 million in cap space for the Giants, who had just over $3.4 million in room according to the latest update from the NFLPA.
Harris fractured his foot in the fifth game of last season, which was a bad one for the receiving corps as Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall were also lost for the season due to injuries suffered against the Chargers. Harris didn’t catch any passes in those games, but had been serving as the kickoff and punt returner for the Giants.
He held those roles for most of his three seasons with the team and also set career-highs with 35 catches for 396 yards and four touchdowns during the 2015 season.