Over the last 17 years, the punter has had a more prominent focus for the Buffalo Bills than it has for most other teams. Brian Moorman was one of the best in the league during his time in Buffalo, but the Bills struggled to replace him as his career came to a close. Over the last three seasons, the role has been filled by a former San Francisco 49ers camp body, someone who has had great moments but was wrought with ineffectiveness for most of 2016.
Name: Colton Schmidt
Height/Weight: 5’11”, 224 lbs.
Draft: UDFA (2013)
Financial Situation (per Spotrac): Schmidt signed a two-year contract with the Bills this offseason. His cap hit this year is $1.15 million, and next year it’ll be $1.45 million. There is $600,000 in guaranteed money in the deal.
2016 Recap: Schmidt had what could politely be described as a down year in 2016. His gross average of 42.4 yards per punt ranked 30th in the NFL, while his net average of 38.1 was good for 29th. He had a few good performances (the win over the Rams sticks out in particular), but all in all he had a pretty rough season.
Positional Outlook: Schmidt was facing some competition during training camp in the form of undrafted free agent Austin Rehkow, but Rehkow’s release last week put an end to that. Schmidt will be the Bills’ punter in 2017.
2017 Offseason: Schmidt was untendered as a restricted free agent, but was surprisingly brought back at the start of free agency in March. He weathered a challenge from Rehkow this offseason, and had a couple of strong showings during the preseason, especially against the Eagles when he had three 50-yard punts and one downed inside the five.
2017 Season Outlook: Back in 2015, Schmidt was a better-than-average punter. He fell off quite a bit last year, but the competition from Rehkow might have brought back his more impressive form. He’ll need to hold that into the regular season if the Bills are going to win the field position battle.