When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed punter Michael Koenen away from the Falcons, many fans and pundits groaned at the thought of a punter getting a deal worth $19.5 million over six years with $6.5 million guaranteed.
Well after seeing the money breakdown. The deal is structured in such a way that Koenen is being paid like a top punter in the league. His 2011 salary is $3.5 million, his 2012 salary is $3.0 million as the first two years of his contract are fully guaranteed. From 2013 – 2016 he’s scheduled to earn $3.25 million per season.
Considering he’ll also handle kickoff duties and help in the area of average starting field position the risk reward for the Bucs is minimal at best speaking from a financially standpoint.
The one draw back is that the team could potentially lose Robert Malone, scratch that no doubt will lose Malone, a player that showed some signs of improvement during his rookie campaign and through one pre-season contest he has averaged 47.8-yards and netted 44-yards on 5 punts with 3 inside the 20. Where as Koenen has averaged 40-yards and netted 40-yards on 1 punt, with 1 inside the 20.
Sure Malone is inexperienced but for a team looking to build a long term sustainable foundation the acquisition of Koenen even with the new kickoff rules is still a bit murky to say the least. Here’s hoping there’s an actual competition taking place at punter and the team is not fixated solely on how deep kickoffs are to justify the signing of Koenen.
As I remember a player out of Ohio State named Andy Lee who many moons ago was signed as an undrafted free agent and a few years later, after being released during training camp has gone on to be a steady Pro Bowl punter for the 49ers.