It appeared the New York Giants were ready to move forward with Chandler Catanzaro as their starting kicker. The team inked the five-year NFL veteran to a contract in late June, just hours after cutting bait with former Pro Bowler, Aldrick Rosas, amid three misdemeanors charges for an alleged hit-and-run accident in June.
Since that time, Catanzaro has been the only kicker on Big Blue’s roster. In return, owning a clear path to stake claim to the team’s kicking duties come Week 1 vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. That was, until yesterday, when GM Dave Gettleman decided to pull the trigger on signing free-agent kicker Graham Gano, reuniting the two, as well as special teams coordinator, Thomas McGaughey, from their days in Carolina.
One day after, Catanzaro appeared to be missing in action, as ESPN’s Jordan Raanan has reported that the kicker was not spotted at Monday’s practice. Turns out there was a good explanation for Catanzaro’s non-appearance at practice, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter announced shortly after that the Giants have indeed decided to release Catanzaro.
Giants released veteran kicker Chandler Catanzaro, per source. Their kicking job belongs to former Panther Graham Gano, who reunites with former Carolina GM Dave Gettleman.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 17, 2020
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Is Gano Actually an Upgrade Over Catanzaro?
It’s worth noting that Catanzaro appeared all but done with football not too long ago. The ex-New York Jet opted to hang up his cleats following the 2018 season, missing the entirety of the 2019 season. It wasn’t until July of this year that word of a potential return to the gridiron for Catanzaro began to circulate, following his release from the Jets’ reserve/left squad list.
It’s not clear whether, with a few practices under his belt, Catanzaro simply struggled to knock off the rust, or had second thoughts about his return to the game. Whatever the reason, it’s led the Giants to hand their placekicking duties over to Gano, who missed the entirety of 2019 with an injury to his plant leg.
Upon signing Catanzaro, head coach Joe Judge was quick to sing the kicker’s praises, who Judge noted he’s known for “a long time.” With that said, he made it a point to note that Catanzaro was not guaranteed the kicking job in New York.
“Look, Chandler’s going to have the opportunity to come in here and compete for a job like everybody else,” Judge said, per NorthJersey.com. “I obviously have some experience in the league with going against him … He’s had some very good seasons, had some very good seasons in this state. So, Chandler is somebody I’ve known about for a long time going back to when he was coming out of Clemson. We’re excited to have him here.”
Catanzaro owns a solid career 83.8% field goal percentage, stemming from numerous stops across the league, including multiple stints with the Jets as well as the Panthers, Buccaneers and Cardinals. It was in Arizona where Catanzaro enjoyed his most prolific NFL years, hitting on at least 87.9% of his field goals in two of his three seasons in the desert.
Catanzaro actually outpaces Gano when it comes to field goal percentage, as the former Panther checks in a few notches below at 82.1%. However, Catanzaro has never put together a season quite like Gano’s 2017 Pro Bowl campaign, where he led the entire NFL with an outrageous 96.7% field goal percentage.
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