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Giants use franchise tag on punter Weatherford

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Steve Weatherford's first season with the New York Giants was so impressive they placed the franchise tag on him Monday.

Weatherford was a key contributor in the team's run to the Super Bowl championship, both as a punter and a holder on kicks.

"What a blessing to have another opportunity to be a NY Giant for at least another season. God is good!!!" Weatherford tweeted.

Weatherford has played six seasons in the NFL with five teams. He was the Saints' regular punter for 2006 and '07, played for New Orleans, Kansas City and Jacksonville in 2008, then joined the New York Jets for 2009 and 2010.

He left the Jets but didn't switch stadiums, signing with the Giants for 2011. Weatherford averaged 45.7 yards gross and 39.2 net, and was particularly effective as the Giants won their last two regular-season games and four postseason games.

Weatherford will be paid roughly $2.5 million, the average of the top five salaries at the position. If he signs with another team, New York will get two first-round draft picks.

It's the third time the Giants have used the franchise tag. Running back Brandon Jacobs got it in 2009 and Jumbo Elliott in 1993. Jacobs signed a new contract less than two weeks after being franchised.

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