Back in early February, Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee announced his retirement from the NFL in order to join Barstool Sports. This set off a chain of events, which ultimately left the Minnesota Vikings without a punter following Jeff Locke’s decision to join the Colts during free agency.
Locke bolting for Indianapolis left the Vikings without a battle-tested punter on their active roster — until now. According to the team website, Minnesota has agreed to terms with former New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals punter Ryan Quigley:
We have signed P Ryan Quigley.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) April 3, 2017
Quigley, who broke into the league in 2013 with the Jets, most recently played for the Cardinals this past season. In nine games with Arizona, he recorded a net average of 41.6 on 34 punts with a long of 55 yards. Over the course of his four-year, 51-game career, Quigley has recorded 259 total punts and a net average of 44.6.
By comparison, Locke participated in 64 games, recorded 74 punts and a net average of 42.6 during his four-year tenure in Minnesota. It is worth noting, however, that comparing punts by net averages and total punts alone gives very little insight as to which player is superior, as these figures do not include situational context or special teams coaching strategy.
Potentially the greatest takeaway from this particular transaction is the approach Minnesota has elected to take with regard to addressing its vacancy at punter. Four years ago the Vikings spent a 5th-round draft pick on Locke, a selection that — at least in hindsight — could have been used to acquire greater value.
Special teams positions are extremely important and often not given the respect they deserve by fans, but the reality this situation is — fair or not — that very capable kickers and punters may be acquired without sacrificing valuable resources.
This past season Minnesota received tremendous value from Kai Forbath, a kicker the team acquired during the middle of the season as a free agent. It remains to be seen if Rick Spielman will opt to spend a draft selection on a punter to compete with Quigley, but with a multiple needs to address and no first-round pick, the Vikings general manager appears set on using the free agency avenue to fill the team’s holes on special teams.