In a surprising move, the New England Patriots have reportedly decided to part ways with veteran punter Zoltan Mesko, meaning that rookie free agent Ryan Allen has won the punting job:
Source says the #Patriots have cut P Zoltan Mesko. Rookie Ryan Allen wins the punting job— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) August 31, 2013
When Allen was brought in as an undrafted free agent back in May, we knew that he wasn't just an extra camp leg. Allen was the only player in NCAA history to win back-to-back Ray Guy Awards, and he was expected to push Zoltan Mesko for his job.
That being said, the move is still surprising. Mesko had been reliable in his three years as a Patriot. While he didn't have the strongest leg, he was very accurate and produced excellent hang time on his kicks.
Allen has the much stronger leg - probably amongst the strongest in the league. That being said, his hang time wasn't as strong as Mesko's, and there were a couple of times in the preseason where he outkicked his coverage.
Allen does have the tools and potential to be one of the league's best at the position. And with Mesko entering the final year of his contract, Allen represents a more cost-effective option for the future.
That being said, we'll all miss the Zoltan around here. He was a fan favorite for his quirky personality, great name, and strong play. I have no doubt he'll land somewhere soon - he'd be an upgrade for a lot of teams in this league.