Trade or Release – The LA Rams All-Pro Johnny Hekker certainly turned some heads over his career. But has he, too, lost a step? Well, he continues to be paid as though he is one of the NFL’s Top-Five punters, but his statistics reveal that his BOOM as the ball came off of his foot is now more like a pop.
I understand the admiration of the guy. He has been a significant contributor to the LA Rams’ success. But if the Rams can get similar production from a less expensive player, why pay more? Per the statisticians at FootballDB.com, Rams punter Johnny Hekker was the 17th ranked punter in the NFL. That is a steep drop from the third-best in 2019. It’s even a steep drop from the seventh-best in 2018. In fact, it’s the first time since HC Sean McVay appeared that Hekker has not been ranked in the Top-Seven among NFL punters.
And yet, per OverTheCap.com, Johnny Hekker remains the top paid punter in the NFL. When a team is at the bottom of the salary cap rankings, paying tops for the punter position may not be wise. Paying top dollar for the 17th ranked punter most definitely is not.
Now entering his 10th season, the All-Pro punter is still good enough to punt for the Rams. But he is paid three times what he is worth right now. In a year with a declining cap ceiling, that overpayment could be the difference between keeping cornerback Darious Williams and not doing so. Money that the LA Rams place into one player’s pocket is money that cannot be used to pay anyone else. Yes, Johnny Hekker can still play, but not for the sum of $5 million. The Rams need to find lots of savings. They can free up nearly $4 million by trading or release their punter.