Can the Buccaneers still afford Michael Koenen?

Al Messerschmidt

With the addition of Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson, and their combined $24M salaries can the Buccaneers still afford the luxury of having the highest paid punter in the league?

Michael Koenen is the NFL's highest paid punter this season according to spotrac.com. He is making $3.25M in 2013, and is contracted to make the same every year until he hits free agency in 2017. That is A LOT of money to pay a punter, even one that performs the double duty of kicking off like Koenen does for the Buccaneers.

With the addition of Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson, and their combined $24+M in salaries, it would seem that the Bucs might not be able to keep fielding the NFL's highest paid punter. Combined with kicker Connor Barth's $2.3M salary, the Buccaneers have quite a bit of money tied up in their kicking game.

Koenen is more than a servicable punter, and may even be amongst the league's elite depending upon whom you speak with, but now that the Buccaneers are pushing the salary cap it would make sense that Koenen and his monster salary might be deemed "non-essential".

Let's take a closer look at the numbers here. According to teamrankings.com, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked 26th in the NFL in 2012 with 37.4 net yards per punt. Now that's not specifically an indictment on Koenen. Net yards can be skewed by short fields and coffin corner attempts, etc. It also has to do with how much of a return the punt team gives up. Still, the gap between the #1 team in category, the San Francisco 49ers with 43.2 YPA, is pretty wide with nearly six more yards per attempt.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Koenen is much better (statistically speaking at least) at his other job. Tampa Bay led the NFL in touchback percentage. Koenen prevented a return on 66.67% of his kickoffs. There are only three teams above 60% and the margin between the Bucs and the #32 New York Jets is gigantic. The Jets only managed to induce a touchback on 17.39% of their kicks.

Here's an interesting fact. Michael Koenen is listed as being 195 pounds. As of today, gold is worth $1292 an ounce. Thus, it's $20, 672 a pound. That would make Michael Koenen worth $4,031,040 if he were made of gold. The Bucs might actually be getting a steal here! So what do you think Bucs Nation? Is Michael Koenen almost worth his weight in gold?

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