If you were looking for definitive evidence that the players finagled themselves a good deal out of the collective bargaining talks, look no further. Former Falcons punter Michael Koenen just got a six-year, $19.5 million deal from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Once again: Punter. $19.5 million. Nice work, DeMaurice Smith.
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The weirdest thing about it? He's not even that great. Among punters with 50 or more punts last year, Koenen ranked 30th in the league with an average of 40.7 yards. His net average was 35.6 yards, 28th in the league. Koenen is decent at dropping punts inside the 20-yard line, doing that 29 times last year, tied for eighth in the league.
He also adds some value as a kickoff specialist, too. He put 23 balls in the end zone for touchbacks on the kickoff last year, good for third in the league. That is a nice thing to have, and field position after kickoffs is an underrated part of the game, but with kickoffs moving up to the 35-yard line this year, one would think a larger percentage of kickers would be able sail the ball into the end zone.
Believe me, the last thing in the world I want to do is write a post bashing Michael Koenen. He's a valuable tool in the battle for field position, and I'm sure he's a lovely, lovely man. It just jumped out at me when I saw that he was getting a contract worth $19.5 million.
In terms of total contract value, it's the biggest deal ever given to a punter. The deal Shane Lechler signed with the Raiders in 2009 was worth more per year ($16 million over four) and had more guarantees. Lechler was also a much better punter.
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