Special teams oftentimes command field position. A good kicker can put offenses on the 25 to start every drive with kick-offs through the end zone. A great kicker wins you football games with critical kicks.
Hey y’all, punters matter too. A great punter can pin offenses deep in their own territory with pinpoint kicks that allow the coverage team to get downfield and stop the football. Of course, we have to mention long snappers, because without a good long snapper a great special team unit can be rendered completely ineffective.
Kicker: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens ($5M per year average)
Justin Tucker might just be the best kicker that the NFL has ever seen. He’s won several games for the Baltimore Ravens in his career and has a cannon for a leg, his career-long being 61 yards. Don’t forget the fact that in 2016, Tucker hit all 10 of his attempts over 50 yards. That’s stupid good. He’s scored 1093 points since 2012, so Tucker might just be on his way to NFL record books in a decade.
Punter: Johnny Hekker, LA Rams ($4.24M per year average)
LA Rams Johnny Hekker is one of those secret weapons who the Rams count on to keep them competitive in each game. His big booming foot has helped the Rams offense to get out of deep in their own side of the field dilemma. And that same cannon-of-a-leg has helped the defense pin the opposing offenses deep in their side. That can be hugely effective over the course of a football game.
New Orleans Saints punter Thomas Morstead came oh-so-close with his $3.962 per year average. But Hekker nudged him out.
Long Snapper: Beau Brinkley, Tennessee Titans ($1.281M per year average)
Beau Brinkley is a very good long snapper, but he’s an excellent special teams player. In fact, Brinkley is so good that he’s been with the Titans since 2012 and never missed a game. He has 33 special teams tackles and is invaluable as a long snapper on the field. Brinkley is a rare type of a player – one who finds a way to the 45 man active-roster every week for his ability on special teams.
That’s a pretty good group of players and not surprisingly the Rams are well represented in this area. But given time, the Rams players will be bargains as other players are paid more for their services.