One month after being cut by the Denver Broncos on Aug. 31, former Sherando High School standout Authentic George Aston Jersey said in an interview, “I’m just waiting for a spot to open up somewhere else. I’ll work hard to make it work there wherever that place is.”
Aston’s perseverance has now earned him another extended look at making it with an NFL team.
The New York Giants signed Aston to their practice squad on Dec. 23, and on Monday they announced they had signed the 6-foot, 240-pound fullback to a reserve/futures contract. This means that Aston will be part of the Giants’ 90-man roster and will be on the team when they begin offseason training in April. Aston was one of 10 people signed by the Giants to futures contracts on Monday.
Aston was signed by Denver as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Pittsburgh last April.
“I always felt I would definitely get another shot,” said Aston in a phone interview on Wednesday. “It definitely feels good to be a part of a team again and just have another opportunity to play football. I’ve been playing since I was 9 years old, so this is definitely a blessing.”
Aston was brought in for one-day workouts with four different franchises during the NFL season. He had no clue what the San Francisco 49ers (Oct. 9 workout), New England Patriots (Oct. 16) and Jacksonville Jaguars (Nov. 18) thought of him after his workouts with them.
“The thing with the NFL is that they don’t tell you that they’re not interested, and they don’t tell you that they are interested,” said Aston with a laugh. “They’re kind of interested because they reach out to you for a workout, but after it’s done, they don’t really like to give you much information. It’s a bunch of waiting and seeing if you hear from them.”
Aston said the Giants (Nov. 12) did offer some positive feedback at their workout, though. Two weeks after that, Aston said the Giants told him they were considering signing him to a futures contract. Those deals can only be signed once the regular season is over, and the Giants concluded their 4-12 regular season with a 34-17 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.
The Giants showed just how serious they were about that by signing Aston to their 10-player practice squad on Dec. 23. Aston traveled to the Giants training facility in East Rutherford, N.J., later that day and participated in practices Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and a walk-through on Saturday.
The Giants were already heading to their third straight season of missing the playoffs when Aston arrived. Since it was the last week of the regular season, Aston said practices were light, but he was grateful for the experience.
“It definitely helped me to go up there, see how things were done with the meetings, and get a little familiar with the facility,” Aston said.
Of course, those Giants meetings could look a lot different next season. Head coach Pat Shurmer was fired on Monday after posting a 9-23 record in two seasons. There was even some speculation that the Giants might fire general manager Dave Gettleman as well, but the man who brought in Aston has been retained.
Aston said he didn’t concern himself with the Giants’ uncertain situation, because the situation was out of his control. He just wanted another opportunity, and he got it.
The Giants do not currently have anyone with a fullback designation on their roster, and it’s unknown what the future head coach will want to do with the 53-man roster that will be finalized the week before the first regular-season game in September.
Aston has repeatedly said he doesn’t like being pigeon-holed with the fullback label. Aston proved to be an adept receiver at Pittsburgh, recording eight touchdowns on 45 catches during his career.
“No matter what, I’m still just going to keep working hard the same way that I have been,” Aston said.
Aston said it was encouraging to get as many calls as he did after the Broncos let him go, which kept him positive.
“I’ve always been saying that you’ve got to take care of what you can control at all times,” Aston said. “It was difficult and hard some days when you’re not hearing anything, but it definitely gives you some more hope when you do get one of those calls that they’re reaching out for a workout.
“[Me and my agent] weren’t reaching out to them, they were reaching out to me. I thought that was a good sign that my name was still floating around the league.”