NFL free agency is now underway and it has already impacted the snapping position. First, of the six exclusive rights free agents, three were offered one-year contracts allowing their teams to retain their rights. The snappers that were tendered contacts are client Casey Kreiter (Broncos), Tyler Ott (Seahawks) and Luke Rhodes (Colts). The three that were not offered contracts and are now free agents are client Patrick Scales (Bears), Taybor Pepper (Packers) and Jeff Overbaugh (Vikings).
With respect to the unrestricted free agents, who could sign with any team unless re-signed, a few have new deals. Aaron Brewer (Broncos), Jake McQuaide (Rams) and Don Muhlbach (Lions) each signed new contracts with their existing clubs. The snappers who are now free to sign anywhere are client Brett Goode (Packers), Garrison Sanborn (Buccaneers), John Denney (Dolphins), LP Ladouceur (Cowboys), Matt Overton (Jaguars) and Andrew DePaola (Bears).
The NFL Combine is now underway and could be a prelude to some activity in the veteran snapper market before free agency in mid-March. Ten snappers will become unrestricted free agents that can sign with any club if not re-signed before free agency. It would not be a surprise to see many of these snappers sign new deals with their teams in the coming weeks. The unrestricted free agent snappers are:
Aaron Brewer (Cardinals)
Brett Goode (Packers)
Don Muhlbach (Lions)
Garrison Sanborn (Buccaneers)
Jake McQuaide (Rams)
John Denney (Dolphins)
Jon Condo (Raiders)
LP Ladouceur (Cowboys)
Matt Overton (Jaguars)
Andrew DePaola (Bears)
There are also six snappers that are exclusive rights free agents for which their current team has the exclusive right to retain them by offering a one year contract. Two potential exclusive rights snappers, Zach Wood (Saints) and Kameron Canaday (Steelers), have already signed new one-year deals. The remaining exclusive rights snappers are:
Casey Kreiter (Broncos)
Tyler Ott (Seahawks)
Patrick Scales (Bears)
Taybor Pepper (Packers)
Jeff Overbaugh (Vikings)
Luke Rhodes (Colts)
Finally, the last specials teams coaching vacancy has been filled, as the Colts have hired Ray Ventrone.
Eagles snapper Rick Lovato is now a Super Bowl champion. Lovato will be awarded a Super Bowl ring, as will former Eagle snapper Jon Dorenbos. The Eagles decided to give Dorenbos, who is now retired due to a heart condition, a ring due to his prior service with the team.
In other snapping news, just one snapper, Tanner Carew of Oregon, was invited to the NFL Combine this year.
Pro Football Focus has just released its annual ranking of special teams units, in which the Vikings finished at the top. The Ravens, Rams, Falcons and Cowboys round out the top five. The bottom five, starting at the bottom, were the Giants, Redskins, Chargers, Broncos and Cardinals.
The Super Bowl will feature snappers Rick Lovato for Philadelphia and Joe Cardona for New England. Lovato is making his Super Bowl debut, while Cardona is making his second consecutive appearance.
Leading up to the Super Bowl, two snappers recorded tackles in playoff games, as Zach Wood (Saints) had a solo tackle in the Wild Card game and Beau Brinkley (Titans) has an assisted tackle in the Divisional round.
Two additional snappers have signed contracts for next season, as Andrew East signed with the Raiders for a second consecutive season, while Drew Ferris signed with the Buccaneers. Ferris was signed after a strong showing at the Husted Kicking Pro Free Agent Specialists Camp held in Mobile, Alabama around the Senior Bowl. The camp featured 16 snappers that qualified for the event and a few more are expected to get NFL workouts in the coming weeks.
Finally, the NFL special teams annual coaching carousel continues to spin. As of right now, only the Colts have a vacancy. Below are the new special teams coaches and their respective teams.
Arizona: Jeff Rodgers
Carolina; Chase Blackburn
Chicago: Chris Tabor
Cleveland: Amos Jones
Dallas: Keith O’Quinn
Denver: Tom McMahon
Houston: Brad Seely
Giants: Thomas McGaughey
Oakland: Rich Bisaccia
Tennessee: Craig Auckerman
One of the highlights at the end of the NFL season is Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings. Now in its 39th season, Gosselin ranks each team in 22 different categories. The lower the amount of point, the better.
Historically, no team has totaled less than 200 points. That was until this year, when the Los Angeles Rams finished with 196.5 points, 30 points lower than the next best special teams unit in Kansas City. New England, Baltimore and Dallas rounded out the top five.
The Giants were the lowest ranked unit, with Denver next lowest followed by Arizona, Los Angeles Chargers and Chicago and Cleveland, who tied for 27th place.
Oscar Shadley, a Virginia Tech commit, was recently selected as the top high school long snapper by the selection committee for the Chris Rubio Award. The committee includes current and former professional long snappers. I am also one of the committee members for the award, that was first given in 2011.
Shadely was selected over Karsten Battles, who will attend Oregon and Ross Reiter, who will attend Colorado State.
The upcoming NFL Pro Bowl will again feature a snapper from each conference. Clark Harris of the Bengals will play in his first Pro Bowl, while Jake McQuaide of the Rams will snap in his second consecutive game.
The Pro Bowl takes place Sunday, January 28th in Orlando, Florida.