The NFL season ended yesterday with a Broncos victory over the Panthers. Snapper Aaron Brewer won his first Super Bowl ring in his second appearance in the big game. Brewer also recorded a solo tackle in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, as did James Winchester of the Chiefs. Those were the only two snappers to record tackles during the entire playoffs.
With the NFL season ended, attention will turn to free agency and the NFL Draft. Veteran free agency starts in early March. Morgan Cox (Ravens), JJ Jansen (Panthers), Don Muhlbach (Lions), client Brett Goode (Packers), Danny Aiken (Giants), Zak DeOssie (Giants), Thomas Gafford (Raiders) and Greg Warren (Steelers) will all become unrestricted free agents.
As for the NFL Draft, with the all-star games completed, attention will turn to the NFL Combine and campus Pro Days. Client Jimmy Landes of Baylor will be the long snapper at the Combine.
The fifth and likely final special teams coaching change in the NFL has been made. The Jets filled the lone remaining vacancy with Brant Boyer.
Boyer, a former special teams standout as a player, was an assistant special teams coach with the Colts before taking the Jets job.
For a long snapper that does not make an NFL team, other playing options are very limited. The Canadian Football League uses non-import snappers and indoor leagues do not need a punt snapper. Recent attempts to establish other outdoor leagues, such as the UFL and FXFL, have all failed.
Another league, the Major League Football, is looking to get started in April and had a territorial draft this weekend. Eight snappers were taken in the draft (Trevor Gillette, Mike Morovick, Dallas Noriega, Tyler Kruzel, Trever Kruzel, Brandon Hartson, Drew Howell and Nate Boyer) and the MLFB hopes to play a 10 game season.
If the MLFB can succeed where many others have failed, it will be a great option for all NFL hopefuls, including snappers. However, many insiders are approaching this new league cautiously in light of the history of other failed efforts to create another outdoor league.
Posted in FXFL, MLFB, NFL, UFL
The NFL lost a veteran snapper today, as Mike Leach of the Cardinals retired after 16 NFL seasons. In his retirement statement, which was re-tweeted this morning on the Longsnap.com Twitter feed (@longsnapcom), Leach noted that an NFL player usually does not get to choose when they leave the game. In his case, Leach wanted to make the decision himself, before his talent diminished or an injury forced the move.
Leach joined the NFL in 2000 after serving as a punter and tight end in college at William & Mary. In addition to snapping for the Titans, he was also the snapper for the Broncos in 2002 before joining the Cardinals in 2009, where he appeared in 216 straight games. In total, Leach appeared in 235 NFL games.
An annual blog post at Longsnap.com this time of year is the story summarizing the game of musical changes at the special teams coaching position. To date, it looks like there will only be five changes.
Below are the changes so far, with the New York Jets having the only vacancy at this point after Bobby April was let go after the season.
HOUSTON: Larry Izzo (Replaces Bob Ligashesky)
SAN FRANCISCO: Derius Swinton (Replaces Thomas McGaughey)
TAMPA BAY: Nate Kaczor (Replaces Kevin O’Dea)
TENNESSEE: Bobby April (Replaces Nate Kaczor)
Although the NFL playoffs are continuing, every NFL teams is also busy scouting some of the top college prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft at various all-star games. Two of the three premier games, the Senior Bowl and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, have selected dedicated snappers, while the Shrine Game will use position players to snap.
The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl takes place Saturday and will feature snappers Nate Theus from Georgia for the National squad and Reid Ferguson from LSU for the American team. Next Saturday, the Senior Bowl will include Jimmy Landes of Baylor for the South and Jeff Overbaugh of San Diego State for the North team.
The Packers and Chiefs will be the coaching staffs for the Pro Bowl and each must select a “need” player. Of course, that need player must be a snapper and the Chiefs chose Morgan Cox of the Ravens, while the Packers selected Jonathan Weeks of the Texans. It is the first Pro Bowl selection for each player and both have just completed their sixth season in the NFL.