Monday, July 25, 2011
Scramble'11: Bears need a new punter
By Kevin Seifert
We're only a few hours into the NFL's post-lockout world, but we're already getting answers to some key personnel questions we spent the offseason discussing.
Here is one of the first. ESPNChicago.com cousin Jeff Dickerson has confirmed the Chicago Bears won't re-sign free agent Brad Maynard, their punter for the past 10 seasons. The team informed Maynard of the decision late Monday afternoon in a story first reported by the Chicago Tribune.
This move isn't entirely unexpected, but it's still a bit jarring to see a core member of a special teams juggernaut cast aside. Maynard is 37 and his performance dipped a bit in 2010, but age is relative when it comes to punters and place-kickers in the NFL. A reliable specialist is one of the most underrated comforts in football.
A snippet from our original discussion in March:
It's true that Maynard's 35.2-yard net average ranked 30th among NFL punters last season, but he did drop 24 punts inside the 20-yard line. Veteran savvy and experience are as valuable to kicking specialists as any position on the game, and Maynard's career total of 407 punts downed inside the 20 are the second-most in the NFL over the past 35 seasons.
Still, the Bears have made the decision to move on and assuredly have a priority list for replacements. They have long-time camp leg Richmond McGee on their roster, and ESPNChicago.com offers three veteran possibilities: Sam Koch, Adam Podlesh and Steve Weatherford. Negotiations can begin Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. ET. Stay tuned.