For the third time in as many seasons, the Ravens’ 2012 training camp was closed to the public. However, Ravens fans still followed the action as closely as they could through every outlet possible. Last year, no storyline was greater than the kicking battle between incumbent rookie Justin Tucker and 2011 AFC Championship Game scapegoat Billy Cundiff.
The Ravens couldn’t have asked for more from Tucker, who ultimately beat out Cundiff, during his near flawless rookie campaign when he hit on 30 of his 33 field goal attempts (90%). Tucker had a big hand (or foot) in leading the Ravens to the Super Bowl with help from his three game-winning kicks.
Given Tucker’s success and punter Sam Koch’s consistency since joining the team in 2006, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has essentially already given the specialists their jobs back in 2013, choosing to use roster spaces for other positional battles.
“It will be pretty tough to find competition for those two guys right now,” Harbaugh said when asked about bringing in some extra legs. “There aren’t too many guys that want to come here and kick or punt. I don’t think they see it as being a very fruitful opportunity.”
Tucker was essentially a shoo-in considering his rookie campaign and relatively inexpensive price tag of only $480,000 against the cap; however, Koch was someone the Ravens could have possibly brought in competition for as a cost-saving measure – not necessarily anything against his production.
This season, Koch will count for $2.5 million against the Ravens’ cap, and if he was released, the team would save his $1.5 million base salary. If a rookie was able to do 80 percent of Koch’s job, the team would likely save an overall amount of just over $1 million after adding in their salary.
Koch struggled at times during the Ravens’ playoff run, but has a track record of being a consistent performer for the team. If one were to suggest that his job security is in question, it wouldn’t be due to anything performance-based. Instead, it’s just the nature of having to evaluate every position with the salary cap being pushed to the limit with the always inflating wages of major players.
Now that Harbaugh has essentially confirmed that there won’t be any competition for either of his specialists, the Ravens will likely just add an extra leg before training camp to eliminate some of the preseason repetitions.
“We will find somebody to help us – somebody that wants a chance to kick or punt in the National Football League,” said Harbaugh. “I’d like a guy who could do both, if possible – punt and kick. You’d love to have a lefty, so you can see how hard that is to come across. But, we will get the best guy we can.”
For Harbaugh, the best guy he can find will do the most for him without eating up multiple roster spots. The Ravens will certainly have a few volunteers before training camp commences.