FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With his effusive praise of Ryan Santoso after the Giants' preseason game in Cleveland last Sunday, coach Joe Judge all but invited another team to trade for the team's backup kicker.
Today, someone did.
The Giants dealt Santoso to the Carolina Panthers for a conditional 2022 seventh-round draft choice. The trade was announced after the Giants' competed their second joint practice with the New England Patriots. Today is Santoso's 26th birthday.
Although Santoso was highly regarded by the Giants, he never played in a game for them because his path was blocked by Graham Gano, who made 31 of 32 field goal attempts last season. Graham was the Panthers' kicker from 2012-18.
The Giants signed Santoso to their practice squad on Sept. 6, 2020. He spent the entire season there except when he was elevated to the active roster on Nov. 17 and Jan. 2. Santoso signed a reserve/futures contract on Jan. 26.
Santoso, who can both placekick and punt, played in three games for the Tennessee Titans in December 2019. He attempted no field goals but had touchbacks on 9 of 16 kickoffs (56.3%).
In the Giants' 17-13 loss to the Browns four days ago, Santoso kicked an extra point and had touchbacks on all three of his kickoffs. In his postgame news conference, Judge took the opportunity to express his admiration for Santoso.
"A large part of our focus for this game was to take a look at some of the guys, like Santoso with kicks," Judge said. "He has been tremendous for us, so we wanted to make sure we got him out there. Those guys did a tremendous job for us. We're happy to have Graham. He is a phenomenal kicker. I know he is a quality guy and we wanted to make sure we got him some tape, to be honest with you. This guy deserves to be 1 or 2. He's got that kind of ability. We have all the faith in the world. We have tried to get him out there for some kicks, and we haven't been able to the past few weeks."
Santoso's departure leaves the Giants with 79 players entering their preseason finale, Sunday evening at home against the Patriots. All NFL teams must reduce their rosters to the regular-season limit of 53 players by 4 p.m. Tuesday.
View photos of the New York Giants' active 53-man roster as it currently stands heading into Week 1.