When the LA Rams released veteran punter Johnny Hekker, it was clear that the team needed to free up some of the fairly high compensation that he was due to make in 2022. But the team has known about his salary situation for some time. In fact, the team held an open competition between Hekker and veteran P Corey Bojorquez last year.
While it appeared that Bojorquez won the competition, the team used that to their advantage to leverage $2 million in concessions from Hekker over two years and subsequently traded Bojorquez to the Green Bay Packers for next to nothing.
While Hekker did not do well in his gross punt ranking in the NFL for 2021, he did much better when ranked by net punting. After all of the activity in 2021 that resulted in Hekker returning for one more season, why didn’t the LA Rams negotiate a bit more aggressively last season to free up enough cap space over 2021 and 2022 that would have allowed the team to stick with Hekker this year?
Drafting a punter? Just for kicks
Perhaps it was more than just a salary cap issue? While punters have up years and down years, Hekker’s 2021 average at yards per punt was the lowest of his ten-year career. And it is the third season of decline in that number. Whatever else the LA Rams seem to do well, the team seems to know (within a year or two) when it is time to part ways with an NFL player.
While I cringe whenever the team uses a draft pick for a kicker, punter, long snapper, and sometimes even for a late-round quarterback, this year I see no way around it. The LA Rams only have late-round draft picks, and currently do not have a punter. Nor do the actions of the team suggest that they will try to sign a priority free agent punter after the draft.LA Rams 2022 NFL Draft Big Board for punters? Yes, punters Click To Tweet