Thomas Morstead

Falcons Sign P Thomas Morstead

Thomas Morstead has found his next gig. The Falcons announced that they’ve signed the veteran punter. Morstead also confirmed the signing on Twitter.

There’s a chance Falcons punter Dustin Colquitt is forced to miss Sunday’s game due to COVID-19 protocols. Morstead would be a temporary fill-in, and there’s a good chance he’ll earn his walking papers once Colquitt is back in the lineup.

Morstead, 35, first entered the league as a fifth-round draft pick of the Saints in 2009. After earning a ring as a rookie, he signed multiple extensions to stay in New Orleans through 2020. This year, the Saints were more than $100MM over the cap, so he was released in the middle of their numbers crunch. Morstead landed with the Jets in mid-September, replacing the injured Braden Mann. But, with Mann designated for return, Morstead’s services were no longer needed and he was cut.

The veteran missed only two games in his 12 Saints seasons and punted in all seven of his Jets contests, bringing his career total to 197 appearances. Morstead was averaging 48.2 yards per punt with the Jets, his best average since 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets To Release P Thomas Morstead

The Jets will release punter Thomas Morstead today, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). As a post-deadline cut, Morstead will be available on the waiver wire for the league’s other 31 teams.

Morstead, 35, first entered the league as a fifth-round draft pick of the Saints in 2009. After earning a ring as a rookie, he signed multiple extensions to stay in New Orleans through 2020. This year, the Saints were more than $100MM over the cap, so he was released in the middle of their numbers crunch.

Morstead landed with the Jets in mid-September, replacing the injured Braden Mann. But, with Mann designated for return, Morstead’s services are no longer needed.

The veteran missed only two games in his 12 Saints seasons and punted in all seven of his Jets contests, bringing his career total to 197 appearances.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets To Sign P Thomas Morstead

The Saints ended Thomas Morstead‘s lengthy tenure as their punter this offseason, but the 12-year veteran landed another gig. The Jets are signing Morstead, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Morstead worked out for the Jets on Tuesday.

An injury to punter Braden Mann forced the Jets to use rookie kicker Matt Ammendola as an emergency punter Sunday against the Panthers. Mann is expected to miss at least a month with a knee sprain. The Jets placed their primary punter on IR Tuesday.

Morstead began his New Orleans tenure ahead of the team’s Super Bowl-winning 2009 season. He signed multiple extensions to stay in that role, but the Saints were more than $100MM over the cap this year. That forced them to bid farewell to several key cogs from the Drew Brees era, Morstead among them.

Since joining the Saints, Morstead missed only two games in 12 seasons. He made the Pro Bowl in 2012. Having lost Mann early in his second NFL season, the Jets will turn to the 36-year-old specialist for the time being.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Cut Thomas Morstead

The Saints are cutting a long-time member of the team. New Orleans has released punter Thomas Morstead, Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football confirmed (Twitter link). The news was first reported by Nader Mirfiq (on Twitter).

The move frees up about $2.5MM in cap space. The team unusually kept UDFA rookie Blake Gillikin on the active roster at the beginning of last year before placing him on injured reserve, perhaps signaling they viewed him as the punter of the future. Morstead was more than just the team’s punter, he was also a leader in the locker room and fan favorite due to his long tenure and consistent performance.

Drafted by the Saints in the fifth-round all the way back in 2009, he’s been with them for the past 12 seasons. He’s never missed a game during that span, and he won Super Bowl XLIV with the team. Still only 34, he should have plenty left in the tank physically and should be able to find a new home.

The highest-paid punter in the game for a while, Morstead made the Pro Bowl in 2012 and was also a second-team All-Pro that year. On a zoom call with the media shortly after the news broke, Morstead confirmed he plans to play elsewhere and said last year’s drop in production was due to lingering injuries, Underhill tweets.

He also thanked the fans and Saints, saying “I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and thanks. … My whole experience with the organization has been outstanding,” via another tweet from Underhill.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bennett, NFLPA, Cap, Kirksey

Although Michael Bennett went through a nomadic late-2010s stretch after the Seahawks traded him in 2018, he remained productive. The veteran defensive lineman has registered 15.5 sacks over the past two seasons and is a free agent for the first time since 2013. Bennett, who signed with the Seahawks in 2013, would like to return to the team to which he’s most linked. Asked if he would want to play for the Seahawks again, the 34-year-old defender said “hard yes.” Bennett, though, has not yet committed to playing a 12th NFL season.

I would love to end my career in Seattle,” Bennett said, via Joe Fann of NBC Sports Northwest. “It’s not up to you, though. It’s up to the team.”

The Seahawks gave Bennett two contracts, including a three-year, $31.5MM extension in 2016. That contract was set to run through 2020, but after the Eagles and Patriots traded him, Bennett and the Cowboys restructured the deal to direct him toward free agency this year. Seattle has most of its pass rushers — including Jadeveon Clowney and Jarran Reed — as impending free agents, so the franchise will have critical decisions to make in the next week and change.

Here is the latest from around the league, moving first to the reconfigured NFLPA:

  • Russell Okung has enjoyed an eventful March, being traded from the Chargers to the Panthers and filing an unfair labor practice charge at the NFLPA staff. As for Okung’s status with the union, he will no longer be part of the NFLPA’s executive committee, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Okung dropped his bid for NFLPA president, throwing support behind Michael Thomas in a race that went to Browns center J.C. Tretter. Both of the players Tretter beat out for the job — Thomas and linebacker Sam Acho — will stay on as executive committee members.
  • Calais Campbell, Malcolm Jenkins and Wesley Woodyard will replace Mark Herzlich, Zak DeOssie and Adam Vinatieri on the executive committee. They will join Tretter, Acho, Thomas, Richard Sherman, Ben Watson, Alex Mack, Lorenzo Alexander and Thomas Morstead on the 11-man committee, the union announced.
  • Rumblings about the salary cap rising to around $230MM by 2021 have surfaced, but the 2020 cap will not move too far from the previously estimated $200MM amount. If the players approve the CBA proposal, the highest the cap would surge to in 2020 would be $206MM, per Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic (subscription required). While the salary ceiling could climb significantly by 2023, if the league’s TV negotiations go well, those spikes will not come until at least 2021.
  • Christian Kirksey may have a chance to land on his feet before free agency. Recently released by the Browns, the veteran linebacker has three visits scheduled, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets. Kirksey’s travel itinerary is not yet known, but the 27-year-old defender’s first visit is scheduled for Wednesday morning.
  • The Texans will take a look at a notable wide receiver soon. They will work out former Broncos rotational cog Jordan Taylor, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. Taylor has not played since the 2017 season. He spent 2018 on the Broncos’ PUP list, and though he caught on with the Vikings last year, the 28-year-old target did not see game action.

Saints, Thomas Morstead Agree To Extension

The Saints have signed punter Thomas Morstead to a new five-year contract (Twitter link via Omar Ruiz of NFL.com). Morstead was heading into final year of his old contract, but the new pact will keep him under contract through 2022.

The deal is worth $20MM with roughly $9MM guaranteed. As Ruiz notes, Morstead acted as his own agent in the negotiations, not unlike new 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman.

Last year, Morstead averaged 47.0 yards per punt, good for eighth-highest in the league. His net average of 42.2 yards per attempt placed him sixth amongst all punters, behind Brett Kern, Johnny Hekker, Marquette King, Rigoberto Sanchez, and Michael Palardy.

Saints Rework Contracts For Jordan, Morstead

The Saints have been busy in free agency within the last couple weeks, adding players like Craig Robertson, James Laurinaitis, and Nick Fairley to new contracts while also matching the Bears’ offer sheet for tight end Josh Hill. It wasn’t clear initially how the cap-strapped Saints were creating room for all their new contracts, but Evan Woodbery of The Times-Picayune has shed some light on the subject.Cameron Jordan

According to Woodbery, New Orleans has restructured the contracts for defensive end Cameron Jordan and punter Thomas Morstead to create a little cap space. Woodbery writes that the moves have pushed the Saints back up to $3.03MM in available cap space, after that figure had been reduced to $273K last week. Still, the new figure doesn’t include Fairley, so even if the team has room to squeeze in the defensive tackle’s new contract, additional restructures or releases will eventually be required.

For Jordan, it was the second time in two months that the Saints have tweaked his contract, giving him more money up front. In February, the team created $4.8MM in cap room by converting Jordan’s $6MM roster bonus into a signing bonus. Now the club has also converted most of his $3.5MM base salary into a signing bonus — by reducing his salary to $765K, the Saints create a $2.73MM bonus, which will be prorated over five years, opening up $2.184MM in cap space for 2016.

As for Morstead, he got a $2.1MM signing bonus, with his $3MM base salary reduced to $900K. That bonus prorates over three seasons, creating $1.4MM in cap savings for 2016. The veteran punter’s 2017 and 2018 cap numbers have increased to $4.7MM and $4.85MM respectively as a result of the restructure.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: E. Rogers, Lions, Cousins, Morstead

Standout CFL receiver Eric Rogers is signing with the 49ers, but it was a visit to the Eagles that helped convince him to choose San Francisco. As he explains to Scott Mitchell of the Calgary Sun, Rogers was impressed at a December workout with the Eagles that head coach Chip Kelly took the time to attend and to meet with him despite Philadelphia having a game to play a couple days later. Kelly’s enthusiasm for the Calgary Stampeders star didn’t dim at all when he became the Niners’ new head coach.

“When he got hired by the Niners, he called me two or three hours after it got announced that they were going to hire him,” Rogers said. “He basically told me, ‘I guess I had to come to Cali to sign you since you’re a Cali boy.’ So he still had that kind of recruitment in him like he was at Oregon. He was like, ‘You’re the first player I called and I want you to be the first player I sign at my new job.'”

As we look forward to seeing if Rogers can earn a roster spot and make an impact for the 49ers this season, let’s check in on a few more items from out of the NFC….

  • During an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio, new Lions general manager Bob Quinn said that he approached the decision of whether or not to retain head coach Jim Caldwell with an open mind (link via Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com). “We had a series of meetings,” Quinn said. “It wasn’t just one day or one hour. It was over a couple of days and a dozen hours. Really, get to know you sessions. My philosophy and his philosophy meshed.”
  • With Kirk Cousins in line for a new contract, Washington will aim to build its roster around the quarterback, and will have to build its salary cap strategy around his new deal, writes Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post. Former agent Joel Corry tells Tesfatsion that he doesn’t expect Cousins to agree to a team-friendly long-term deal like the ones signed by Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton.
  • Mike Triplett of ESPN.com doesn’t expect the Saints to cut Thomas Morstead this offseason, but says the team will have to consider it, since the veteran punter – who has a $4.45MM cap hit in 2016 – may be a luxury the team can’t afford. I suggested as much back in September in my preview of New Orleans’ cap outlook for ’16.
  • Former Falcons tackle Lamar Holmes continued to work out for NFL teams this week, auditioning on Wednesday for the Cowboys, per Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Holmes spent most of the 2015 season on the PUP list before being cut by Atlanta with an injury settlement.

Saints To Cut Brandon Fields

After spending two games with the Saints, punter Brandon Fields will return to the free agent market. According to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com (via Twitter), New Orleans is releasing Fields today, a hint that veteran punter Thomas Morstead may be ready to return.

Fields is only two years removed from a Pro Bowl season for Miami in 2013. However, despite restructuring his contract to make his 2015 cap hit more palatable, the 31-year-old was beaten out by Matt Darr for the Dolphins’ punting job. Fields served as the Dolphins’ punter for eight seasons before being let go earlier this year.

The Saints signed Fields to fill in for Morstead as he battled a strained quad, and the ex-Dolphins punter had 10 attempts over the last weeks — he averaged 41.2 yards per punt, which would’ve easily been the lowest mark of his career over the course of a full season.

Because he’s a vested veteran, Fields won’t have to pass through waivers before becoming a free agent.

Saints To Sign Brandon Fields

With incumbent punter Thomas Morstead battling a strained quad, the Saints brought in free agents for a look this week, and have decided to sign former Dolphin Brandon Fields, according to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Fields’ agent, Ian Greengross, confirmed the agreement, tweeting a congratulatory message to his client.

Fields, 31, is only two years removed from a Pro Bowl season for Miami in 2013. The veteran served as the Dolphins’ punter for eight seasons before being let go earlier this year. Despite restructuring his contract to make his 2015 cap hit more palatable, Fields was beaten out by Matt Darr for the Dolphins’ punting job.

With Morstead only expected to be sidelined for a week or two, Fields may not stick around on New Orleans’ roster for long, but he’ll play until Morstead is ready to return, tweets Marvez.

Joel A. Erickson of The Advocate first reported earlier today that Fields was among the punters to work out for the Saints.