Sometimes as fans we grow attached to players after a short period of time. Veteran punter Thomas Morstead was the perfect example of that.
The long-time New Orleans Saints fan-favorite joined the New York Jets as an injury replacement for second-year prospect Braden Mann. Everyone knew it was a short-term gig, including Morstead himself.
And yet after seven games of professionalism and class — not to mention some darn-good punting — it was sad to see the 35-year old go. Maybe it was his candid message to fans or maybe it was just the way he carried himself within the organization, but Morstead was well-liked during his brief tenure in New York.
More than anything, I think most fans hoped another NFL team would give him one last opportunity — even if it was never going to be with the Jets.
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Morstead’s NFL Journey Will Continue
It took a couple of weeks, but the crafty punter eventually found a franchise in need. Ironically, it was a team that hit close to home for the ex-Saint.
Morstead revealed the news on Twitter: “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to continue my playing career. Thank you Atlanta Falcons I’ll give you everything I have! I acknowledge that this will pain many of my biggest supporters. All I can say is my love for New Orleans is as strong as ever. #WhoDatForLife”
It looks like Morstead will be heading back to the NFC South, this time with the rival Atlanta Falcons and you can’t help but feel happy for the guy.
Upon his release from the Jets, it was painfully obvious that the veteran wanted to keep playing. “I’m out!” Morstead announced at the time. “I’m so grateful to the Jets for the opportunity to keep living out my dream. I got to show my kids how to persevere through adversity. Can’t ask for much more than that. Also, if my production this season hasn’t already indicated, there is a lot of gas left in the tank,” he added.
The former Super Bowl champion and Pro Bowler has been an ironman throughout his career, missing just two regular-season games (due to injury) over the course of his 13 NFL seasons. He added 15 career postseason outings to that total. Morstead has also maintained a level of consistency that many athletes strive to replicate.
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Can Mann Become the Jets Version of Morstead?
Morstead also complimented Mann on his way out, noting that “Jets fans should be excited about his future.”
The reason Joe Douglas was always going to go back to the 2020 sixth-rounder is the same reason he drafted him — his potential. Mann was a five-star punting and kicking prospect when he committed to Texas A&M. Maybe the Jets should try him out in place of Matt Ammendola.
Mann went on to have a historic season with the Aggies in 2018 before getting drafted by Douglas last year. Think Seattle Seahawks punter Michael Dickson, who went from bowl game MVP at Texas to 2018 fifth-round pick. Just a few years later, he’s one of the top punters in the NFL.
After an average rookie season, Mann was having a dominant preseason in 2021 with seven punts downed inside the 20-yard line (out of 12 total). Then, he was injured on his first punt of the year in Week 1. If he can regain his trajectory from preseason, the former five-star recruit can become the franchise’s long-term answer at the position.
Just like kicker, it’s nice to have a young reliable punter locked up for years to come.
According to Pro Football Focus, Mann has punted seven times since returning in Week 10. Of those seven, he’s downed four inside the 20 and allowed two fair catches outside of it. Only one punt has been returned and it went for a 26-yard runback against Buffalo.