Sam Koch has been the best Ravens punter in team history.
But that doesn’t change the fact that he was just a slightly better than average punter in 2013.
Unless you are the Pittsburgh Steelers who apparently believe otherwise given recent extensions to Heath Miller and Troy Polamalu, nostalgia doesn’t work in the modern day NFL.
NFL means Not For Long on many levels. Front office execs around the league whose livelihoods rest on their ability to maximize the return on their team’s salary cap, have no choice but to ask all players, “What have you done for me lately?”
If that question was directed to Koch his reply should include the following:
The problem with these numbers is that they don’t match up with Koch’s paycheck and the corresponding cap figure. The 31-year-old eight-year veteran commands the 10th high salary among punters according to OverTheCap.com and his cap number ($2.8M) is the 6th highest among punters and the 10th richest cap figure currently among all Ravens.
If the Ravens release Koch before June 1 they would create $1.6M in additional cap space – space that could translate into a player such as 2013’s Daryl Smith. If they wait until after June 1 the cap savings swells to $2.2M.
That said, the Ravens would still need a punter.
Given their current cap position (as much as $21.4M in cap availability) which is 10th best among all 32 teams, it’s doubtful that the Ravens will part ways prior to June 1 with this steady, albeit unspectacular player. Ozzie Newsome has plenty of cap space to successfully augment the Ravens’ roster. Besides, Koch is an outstanding holder for Justin Tucker so some value has to be given for that.
But Koch should and will get competition during the 2014 training camp. If the Ravens can find a rookie who can impress in the punting game the way Justin Tucker did as a placekicker or a more economical veteran who provides comparable productivity, then and only then will the Ravens part ways with their 2006 6th Round draft pick.
And if that happens, the $2.2M in cap savings could be used for a late camp acquisition that we’ve seen Ozzie Newsome execute effectively in previous years.
But for now, let’s punt on the idea of parting ways with Koch.