EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' biggest free-agent contract this offseason was the five-year, $17.5 million deal they gave to Dwayne Harris, whose primary role with the Dallas Cowboys was as a special teamer. That's a pretty big contract for a special teamer, but after playing against Harris and the Cowboys twice a season for the past four years, the Giants believed it was worth it.
"Dwayne Harris, we thought the guy was kind of a four-to-five-tool type player for us," Giants general manager Jerry Reese said last week. "We thought we were getting a lot of players out of one position. We've played against him for a long time, and he has been a good player, so hopefully he'll bring it over here to us and play for us in those capacities."
The Giants love Harris as a return man on punts and kicks, and they also view him as a major contributor as a "gunner" on both kick coverage and punt coverage units. But while Harris is happy to come to the Giants and continue doing the jobs he did for the Cowboys, it's yet another role that intrigues him. He'd like to contribute as a wide receiver, and he says the Giants told him he could.
"That's exactly why I chose to come here," Harris said last week. "They do look at me as a receiver and the things I can do on the offensive end. The things I did in Dallas limited me, because it was a lot of special teams work and a lot of blocking for DeMarco Murray. Being able to come here and show people I can play receiver and show what I can do when I have the ball in my hands is going to be fun for me."
Whether Harris gets his wish remains to be seen. The Giants have Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle, Victor Cruz, Kevin Ogletree, Preston Parker, Marcus Harris, Corey Washington and others on the roster at wide receiver. Even if Cruz doesn't come back fully healthy from his knee injury, there are players on that list who contributed to the team in 2014, know the offense and could earn opportunities ahead of Harris, who caught only seven passes last season and 33 total in his four years in Dallas. The things Harris does well on special teams and as a blocker in the run game will require a lot of him, and it's possible they could keep him from contributing as a receiver to the extent he'd like to contribute. But he's optimistic he'll get a chance to break out.
"They have a lot of different situational things they are going to put me in," Harris said. "It's going to be kind of similar to Dallas, but a bigger role. I think they're going to put me in situations where I can go out and make plays. I really don’t know exactly what Coach McAdoo has in store for what they want me to do exactly, but they described to me that they will use me more as a situational guy to come in and do different things."