Last offseason, the Colts and punter Pat McAfee didn't agree to a long-term deal and instead the punter played the 2013 season under the franchise tag. On more than one occasion I mentioned how I wondered whether the fact that Pat McAfee wants to kick field goals as well as punt might have been a hindering block to a long-term deal getting done then.
I don't know if that was or wasn't, and Friday morning McAfee announced that he had signed a five year deal to stay with the Colts. It was a great deal for the Colts, a 5-year, $14 million deal with $5 million guaranteed, and it also ensured that McAfee got paid. In his conference call with the Indianapolis media Friday, McAfee was asked about whether kicking duties were brought up at all in the negotiations:
"It was definitely brought up and that was kind of the thing I think that was most talked about. Who knows what's going to happen with (Adam) Vinatieri? If he gets re-signed, if he wants to get re-signed, however long he wants to play, I just wanted to know whenever that guy is done, whenever that Hall-of-Fame career is over, that I just want a fair shake in kicking as well. That came up in the conversation. Who knows what's going to happen with everything else obviously with him or who else they bring in. That definitely came up during negotiations and I'm excited to see how that turns out as well."
That's no surprise whatsoever. McAfee wants to kick field goals. He made 58 out of 79 field goals in college at West Virginia, as well as 210 out of 212 extra point attempts. He did all of this while also averaging 43.7 yards per punt on 126 punts. He likes handling the kicking duties and it is not an uncommon sight to see McAfee making long field goals on a side practice field in training camp. I've seen him do it many times, making field goals from 70 yards out. The discussions certainly came up in the negotiations about kicking field goals, as McAfee said, and he said that whenever Adam Vinatieri is done in Indy (which might even be this year, as it sounds like he will hit the free agent market) he just wants a fair chance at replacing him as kicker.
Many fans want this as well. But not only do I doubt it will actually happen, I don't think it would be a good idea at all for the Colts to let McAfee handle the kicking duties as well as the punting duties.
The simplest reason why is because of the risk of injury. If you have just one guy handling all of the kicking duties - punting, kicking, and kick off - all it takes is one injury and your entire kicking game is completely gone. And if you think that no coach would ever have his players try to take out McAfee, then I wish you were right but sadly, you aren't. There are coaches and players who would know that with one hit they could eliminate their opponent's entire kicking game. Oh, and should you suggest the Colts keep a backup kicker, then let me ask why not just let him handle the kicking duties in the first place?
This isn't really even a question of whether or not McAfee can handle the duties - it's a question about whether he should, and the answer is no. He's one of the league's best punters and a great kickoff guy as well. While he also kicked field goals in college and has shown that he has a strong leg, that doesn't mean the Colts should hand him the reigns to their field goal duties after the Adam Vinatieri era. The first question is how accurate is, not how strong his leg is. Additionally, the most fundamental question the Colts must ask is whether having McAfee do all of the kicking duties is a smart move for the franchise, and the answer is no. He does a great job as a punter and as a kickoff man - keep it that way.
The discussions came up in the negotiations, which is no surprise. McAfee said all he wanted was a fair chance after the Vinatieri era ends. He might get a chance, but I highly doubt it will actually happen, nor do I think it would be wise for the Colts.