Coming out of the Buffalo Bills’ 2022 training camp and heading into the regular season, the team still has a suddenly unexpected position to address in order to find a starter for Week 1.
The Bills thought their punter position was locked up, having released Matt Haack and promoting 2022 sixth-round draft pick Matt Araiza to be the starter. Head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane were preparing to spend time looking at who would fall where on the depth chart and who they could leverage for future picks in trades at the cut deadline without worrying about who would punt come the first week of the regular season. Then news broke last weekend that changed the team’s priorities.
Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane aren’t acting out of urgency however. They hosted four punters for a workout on Sunday, just hours after releasing Araiza—who is engulfed in legal troubles surrounding an accusation of gang-rape while a member of the San Diego State University football team last October.
However, none of the punters at the Sunday workout—Michael Palardy, Ty Long, Tyler Newsome, or Joseph Charlton—were signed, indicating that One Bills Drive isn’t in desperation mode.
With the deadline for NFL rosters to be at 53 players a little more than 24 hours away, there are indications that the Bills could be waiting to see who they can claim from waivers or sign as a free agent. Of course, a trade is also a possibility.
However, things got interesting this morning when it was reported that the Denver Broncos were releasing Sam Martin. Statistically, Martin was a top-five punter for the Broncos during the 2021 season, setting the team’s all-time record for net punting.
#Broncos P Sam Martin is being released today by Denver after indicating he would refuse any pay reduction. He was a top 5 punter statistically in 2021 and set Broncos all-time record for net punting last season. Will have interest.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 29, 2022
Prior to playing in Denver, Martin played for the Detroit Lions where he had his career-best average of 48.6 yards (2016) and net average (2016). In 2018, he also dropped a career-best 32 punts inside the 20-yard line.
To make the search even more interesting, it was announced that the Tennessee Titans informed Brett Kern—a punter who the Bills had rumored interest in—he would be released. Kern has played for the Titans since 2009.
Kern is a Grand Island native, further driving speculation he may be interested in playing for his hometown team.
If the Buffalo Bills are truly interested in either Kern or Martin, they may not have to wait long to find their man.