The Detroit Lions didn’t bring back punter Sam Martin in free agency this offseason, but it apparently wasn’t for a lack of trying.
Martin, who had started his career in Detroit and fit in well with the team, departed abruptly this offseason and landed with the Denver Broncos. He nearly returned to the Lions, though, which is something he revealed on The Pat McAfee Show. As Martin explained, there was no hard feelings and it was simply time for a change. Matt Prater also played a role.
“Yeah, I did have an offer to go back to Detroit and I was definitely interested in going back to Detroit. Denver, as a punter, it’s a really appealing place to go. Once we started talking with them it became a reality that I could end up there. We spoke a little bit about coach (Tom) McMahon and philosophy and punting, combined with that and all the praise I used to get from (Matt) Prater on a weekly basis on how much he loved the city and Colorado in general, it became a place I really wanted to land. Detroit was definitely still on the table but Denver was appealing and the contract was as well and that’s kind of how it played out.”
Martin’s departure left a hole in the Detroit specialty teams group that the team will have to patch starting this offseason. That’s their goal as he heads to the thin air to gain some additional yardage.
Sam Martin Signed With Broncos During Free Agency
Martin agreed to a new contract with the Denver Broncos. Martin will join Denver on a 3 year pact in which he will be paid $7.05 million dollars, which was revealed a few months ago during free agency.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 24, 2020
Now that Martin is departing, the Lions will have to prioritize the punter position either in free agency or the draft. It’s more likely to be in the draft, given there is a lack of free agent punters on the market at this point.
Sam Martin Stats
Martin was drafted by the Lions in 2013 as a fifth round pick out of Appalachian State. While playing for the Lions, Martin has been known as a punter with a big leg, given he also handles the team’s kickoffs. Martin has never made a Pro Bowl but was named an alternate for the game in 2017. Through his career, he has netted 21,760 punting yards with 175 punts landing inside the 20 yard line.
Fair or unfair, Martin is known for a few shanks during his time in Detroit, namely one in the postseason. Other than that, he was a very solid punter for the team.
Lions Punting Competition
Detroit might already have a good candidate on the roster to replace Martin in Jack Fox.
As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press explained, Fox was signed to the roster and could be set to square off in a punting battle to take over the role. At this point, Fox could be the guy to beat according to Birkett.
Here’s a look at what he said about that:
“Fox had a strong showing at the East-West Shrine all-star game a year ago, but went undrafted out of Rice. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent, was briefly on their practice squad during the season and impressed the Lions with a late-season workout in Allen Park.
Fox may be good enough that the Lions don’t need to draft a punter this offseason, like they did with Martin in 2013. He can kick off, he handled long field goals in college, and he enters spring as the favorite to replace Martin, who took a pay cut before last season in exchange for having his contract reduced by a year.”
While playing for Rice, Fox piled up 9,167 punting yards in a 4 year career. He can also kick in an emergency role, as he made 38 of 39 extra points in his career and was 5-12 on field goals. Obviously, with a leg like that, the Lions could ask him to be a kickoff specialist as well.
In addition to Fox, the Lions have Arryn Siposs from Auburn who signed as a free agent, so it seems a virtual lock one of the pair will be replacing Martin when all is said and done this offseason. Though Martin could have stayed, he elected to leave, opening up the competition.
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