The 36-year-old was the longest-tenured player on the team, having started his 12-plus-year Nashville tenure in 2009. The move to the Titans came after being waived by the Broncos following 22 games in Denver. Since then, he has accumulated 197 appearances in Tennessee, which ranks third in Oilers/Titans franchise history.
Kern’s peak came during a three-year stretch from 2017-19. He was named a Pro Bowler in each of those seasons, earning All-Pro honors in two of them as well. During the 2017 campaign, the Toledo product led the NFL with a punt average of 49.7 yards. Overall, his average in that regard sits at 45.9, though his numbers have dropped during each of the past two seasons.
Kern had one season remaining on his current deal, which was set to pay him $2.2MM; the move will save Tennessee $1.2MM. With him off the roster, it appears that undrafted rookie Ryan Stonehouse will take over the team’s punting duties. During five seasons at Colorado State, he punted a total of 244 times at an average 47.8 yards, including a career-high 50.9 yards in 2021.
As Kern now looks for a new NFL home, many have suggested Buffalo as a logical landing spot. The Bills are currently without a punter, as they cut ties with sixth-round rookie Matt Araiza over the weekend in the wake of recent developments related to a suit naming him in gang rape allegations. As a native of Grand Island, New York, Kern signing with the Bills would not only fill the team’s roster void, but also represent a homecoming. Regardless of where he lands, the Titans will face some notable uncertainty this season on special teams.