The newest member of the Buffalo Bills roster, punter Sam Martin, who was signed after the team cut controversial rookie Matt Araiza, a.k.a “The Punt God,” talked to the media for the first time since joining the team on Sunday, September 4.
During his interview, the 32-year-old veteran was asked about the conflicting reports regarding his late preseason exit from the Denver Broncos. While NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted on August 29 that Martin was released by his former team after he refused to take a pay cut, 9 News’ Broncos reporter Mike Klis tweeted on August 30, “Per source, Bills have signed punter Sam Martin. Took less from Bills in no small part because they are competing for Super Bowl.”
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The Appalachian State alum signed a one-year contract with Buffalo, however, his exact salary has not yet been made public. Speaking to reporters after practice on Sunday, Martin didn’t deny taking less money to sign with the Bills while throwing subtle shade at his former team.
“A lot went into that decision,” Martin said of leaving the Broncos. “But overall, I think I ended up in the right spot, let’s put it that way. It’s my 10th year in the league. There’s a lot of things more important to me than technically the money. One of them is being on a team of this caliber. And just the culture here. A lot of things played into it. Money wasn’t necessarily a factor in where I wanted to be, where I wanted to play, and where I thought was the best fit for me as a player.”
The Bills’ Reputation ‘Speaks for Itself,’ Martin Said
A former fifth-round pick from the 2013 NFL Draft, Martin spent seven years with the Detroit Lions, before signing a three-year, $7.5 million contract with the Broncos in 2020. NBC Sports analyst Michael David Smith reported that Martin “had a base salary this year of $2.25 million,” for the 2022 NFL season, “but none of that was guaranteed, so that’s what the Broncos will save on their salary cap by cutting him.”
Contrary to Rapoport’s report, Broncos beat reporter Zac Stevens wrote that it wasn’t Martin’s decision to leave. Stevens tweeted, “Per source, the Broncos did NOT ask Sam Martin to take a pay cut, nor did economics factor into their decision to release him. Corliss Waitman won the job fair and square.”
Regardless of how things played out, Martin is thrilled with the results. “A lot of it had to do with the team,” Martin said of signing with Buffalo. “The reputation speaks for itself. I had a great meeting here on my visit… the stars kinda aligned. Everything I’ve heard about the place, and I’ve only been here a few days now, it’s been awesome and I’m really happy I’m here.”
Bills general manager Brandon Beane is also pumped to have Martin in Buffalo. “We wanted a vet, not only as a punter, but a guy who we’ve seen hold plenty of games,” Beane said during a press conference on September 1, noting that his easy chemistry with kicker Tyler Bass was a huge deciding factor.
“He’s a guy that is really good directional, placing the ball, especially if you’re getting at the minus 40, minus 45 over to the plus side, those areas where you’re trying to get them not only inside the 20 but you know down closer to the 10,” Beane added. “Sam’s not the guy that has the hugest leg, that’s not his strength — I would say accuracy, ball placement is probably his best.”
Martin Called Joining the Bills ‘A Blessing’
Martin acknowledged that joining a team with the highest odds to make it to the Super Bowl was not lost on him, however, he said a big pull came from the fact his former teammate, superstar outside linebacker Von Miller, joined the franchise.
“It’s a perfect situation for me,” Martin. “I knew Von [Miller] just slid over here. I was really good friends with Von in Denver. So, it was a blessing. I was super excited when it became a possibility. Like I said, I’m just super happy to be here.”
Signing Martin is also a huge get for the Bills. Even though they don’t punt often, Martin is one of the best in the league. Last season, Martin “ranked third in the NFL in net punting average at 42.8 yards per punt,” as reported by Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams. “He tied for fifth in the league with 28 punts inside the 20-yard line. During the preseason, Martin had a 49-yard net average on four preseason punts, with one inside the 20.”