I know it’s not the sexiest position, but there is a competition brewing at the punter spot in camp this week.
Ryan Allen had a legitimate case for Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl 53. Allen punted five times, averaging 43 yards per punt, pinned the Rams inside the 10-yard line three times, allowed a total of 12 punt return yards in the game. The biggest thing you can say about Allen is that he has been incredibly consistent since taking Zoltan Mesko’s job as punter in 2013. His contract, however, runs out at the end of the season, and the Patriots drafted Jake Bailey out of Stanford in the fifth round for a reason.
That reason has been on display the first three days of camp. Bailey has routinely had punts with 5+ seconds of hang time, and had also had some over 6 seconds. The problem is that he has also had some punts that didn’t look very good. Bailey’s biggest issue in college was his consistency, and that is something the Patriots never have to worry about with Allen.
There’s also the ability to pin their opponents deep in their end. In college, Bailey’s punts made the opponent start inside the 20 just over 35% of the time, while Allen has done it at just over 34% since coming into the league. The biggest issue is ball placement, almost 16% of Bailey’s punts ended in a touchback, while just under 6% of Allen’s punts the last four seasons have ended in a touchback.
Ultimately, I think it’s going to be hard to replace Allen, but it doesn’t hurt to have someone in camp to push him, and possibly replace him if he wants too much money next season. Remember, the Patriots brought in Corey Bojorquez last year, wouldn’t even let him kick, because they didn’t want anyone to see what he could do. They tried to cut him and sneak him onto the practice squad, but he was picked up off waivers by the Bills, so I doubt the Patriots can get Bailey to the practice squad.
Don’t be surprised if Bailey hurts his leg right after the fourth preseason and has to spend the season on IR. That way, the Patriots can make this decision next season.
Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast
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