Most assumed when the Buccaneers added former Gators and Eagles punter Chas Henry earlier this month, it was merely a formality of bringing another leg for training camp. And while that still may prove to be the case, when looking at the numbers you have to consider the money that could be saved if Henry wins the job.
While not many fans are too concerned about the punting and kickoff duties – instead more focused on improving the defense – the signing of punter Chas Henry may be more than just an extra leg during training camp.
The Buccaneers have not publicly (or privately) said that they are unhappy with Koenen, but with a cap hit of $3.25 million this season, they very well may be exploring options.
Koenen signed with the Buccaneers prior to the 2011 season as general manager Mark Dominik was able to pry the Washington native from Atlanta to Tampa Bay with a six-year, $19.5 million free-agent contract. Many scoffed initially as Koenen was basically the only significant free agent signing the season following the lockout.
But Koenen paid dividends right out of the gate, becoming a dependable punter while also handling the kickoff duties, along with being the holder for placekicker Connor Barth who had a franchise record-setting season in 2011.
In 2012 Koenen led the NFL in kickoff touchback percentage, but was also 30th in net punting average. Tampa Bay has already paid Koenen $6.5 million in guaranteed money and can cut Koenen now through the end of his contract (2016) without any salary cap penalties.
University of Florida fans remember Henry fondly as the former Gator handled Florida's punting duties during his four years in Gainesville, peaking as a senior in 2010 when he averaged 45.1 yards on 50 kicks and downed 18 inside the 20 versus just three touchbacks. He was also forced into placekicking duties for a portion of the 2010 season, making 28 of 29 extra point tries and seven of 11 field goal attempts, including a game-winning overtime 37-yarder against Georgia.
Henry signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in April of 2011. He won the team's punting job as a rookie and averaged 42.9 yards on 66 kicks, with a net average of 36.9. He also handled the punting chores for the first three games of 2012, averaging 48.5 yards per kick with a net of 38.3 and like Koenen, Henry can also hold on placekicking duties.
Could the Buccaneers be considering a legitimate punting competition, or was Henry brought in, as was placekicker Kai Forbath last season, to make Koenen better through competition?
Koenen is one of the nicest guys inside the locker room, a family man, a man of faith, and a mature husband and father that provides a great example to the younger players. Koenen fits in to what head coach Greg Schiano like to call “Buccaneer Men.”
But as we all know, the NFL is a business and you can’t field a team solely based on nice guys. While the Buccaneers are far from having salary cap issues at this point, the question this offseason will be is the money best served being spent elsewhere?
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