NFL veteran free agency has just begun and below is the latest with respect to the long snappers in each free agent category.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS: Luke Rhodes (Colts), Trent Sieg (Raiders) and Tyler Ott (Seahawks) were each tendered and will remain under contract to their existing teams.
RESTRICTED: Client Casey Kreiter (Broncos) signed a new contract to remain in Denver for another season before the tender deadline. Client Patrick Scales (Bears) was not tendered and is currently an unrestricted free agent.
UNRESTRICTED: Matt Overton (Jaguars) signed a one year deal and Kyle Nelson (49ers) signed a four-year deal, each to remain with their clubs. Veteran Carson Tinker (Jaguars) was waived and is now a free agent. Zak DeOssie (Giants) and LP Ladouceur (Cowboys) are expected to re-sign with their teams. That leaves two other unrestricted free agent snappers, Jon Condo (Falcons) and Garrison Sanborn (Buccaneers), and their status is unknown at this time.
NFL free agency starts next month and has already impacted the snapping position during the past few weeks. Below is a look at the various categories of free agents and where things stand with each snapper.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS: Three of the six exclusive rights snappers have already signed new one-year deals. They are Zach Wood (Saints), Rick Lovato (Eagles) and Kameron Canaday (Steelers). The others, Luke Rhodes (Colts), Trent Sieg (Raiders) and Tyler Ott (Seahawks), are all expected to sign new deals to remain with their teams.
RESTRICTED: Clients Patrick Scales (Bears) and Casey Kreiter (Broncos) must either sign a new contract or at least be offered a one-year deal before free agency starts to stay with their existing teams. If not, both will become unrestricted free agents and free to sign with any team.
UNRESTRICTED: Don Muhlbach (Lions) and John Denney (Dolphins) have each signed one-year deals to stay with their teams. It is expected that LP Ladouceur will do the same to remain with the Cowboys. That leaves Jon Condo (Falcons), Matt Overton (Jaguars), Zak DeOssie (Giants), Garrison Sanborn (Buccaneers) and Kyle Nelson (49ers) as the remaining snappers who can sign anywhere once free agency begins.
The NFL Combine starts at the end of the month in Indianapolis and just one long snapper, Dan Godsil of Indiana, has been invited. Godsil also played in the Senior Bowl last month.
All 32 NFL teams now have a special teams coach in place following the usual changes that occur at the end of each season.
Below is a comprehensive summary of all of the changes since the end of the regular season.
ST COACHES IN: Ben Kotwica (Falcons), Heath Farwell (Bills), Mike Preifer (Browns), John Bonamego (Lions), Shawn Mennenga (Packers); Danny Crossman (Dolphins); Marwan Maalouf (Vikings); Keith Armstrong (Buccaneers) and Nate Kaczor (Redskins).
ST COACHES OUT: Keith Armstrong (Falcons), Danny Grossman (Bills), Amos Jones (Browns), Devin Fitzsimmons (Lions), Ron Zook (Packers), Darren Rizzi (Dolphins), Mike Priefer (Vikings), Nate Kaczor (Buccaneers) and Ben Kotwica (Redskins).
Long snappers who want to play at the professional level but have not been able to crack an NFL roster have limited options. The CFL uses Canadian snappers and the indoor leagues do not punt. Although other leagues have tried to fill the void, most have failed.
The Alliance of American Football aims to be different and will start the week after the Super Bowl. There are eight teams and each has a dedicated long snapper on the roster.
Here are the snappers for each team.
Arizona: Nick Dooley
Atlanta: Jeff Overbaugh
Birmingham: Cole Mazza
Memphis: Ryan Navarro
Orlanda: Drew Ferris
Salt Lake City: Colton Taylor
San Antonio: Scott Daly
San Diego: Ryan DiSalvo
Amid all the Super Bowl hype was an excellent story by Andrew Callahan on Masslive.com regarding the assistant coaches for the Patriots and what it takes to play for them. Of note was special teams coach Joe Judge’s comments on the snapper as an overlooked part of special teams.
Here is the entire quote from Judge, since any long snapper will appreciate his comments:
“The importance of the long snapper. Without him having a good snap, it’s extremely hard for a Ryan (Allen) to have a good punt or Steve (Gostkowski) to have a good kick. And you factor in the details of people rushing him, people hitting him, weather situations of rain, snow and cold. There’s a lot of things that go into it that you take for granted like, ‘Oh he’s just snapping a ball.’
“Well, you try and throw a perfect spiral at someone’s left hip at 15 yards in a rainstorm with someone trying to take your head off and your head between your legs.”
One of the more interesting aspects of NFL special teams units at this time of year is the annual rankings that are released to measure performance.
Rick Gosselin is famous for his 22 kicking game criteria rankings and has just published his ranking of all 32 teams for another year. Pro Football Focus and Eric Eager do their own weighing and evaluation to come up with their unique rankings.
The top five and bottom five for each are below:
TOP 5 (1-5): Jets, New Orleans, Kansas City, Miami and Arizona
BOTTOM 5 (28-32): Tampa Bay, Chargers, Cleveland, Buffalo and Green Bay
PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS
TOP 5 (1-5): Kansas City, New Orleans, Detroit, Minnesota and Jets
BOTTOM 5 (28-32): Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Buffalo and Cleveland