The Indianapolis Colts have made their first move of free agency, as they have signed punter Jeff Locke to replace Pat McAfee, according to NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo.
The 27-year old punter has spent the last four years with the Minnesota Vikings and has played in every game over the last four years. He’s averaged 43.2 yards per punt and has a net average of 38.8 yards per punt over the last four years, and he has had 101 punts pinned inside the 20 yard line.
Locke is the replacement to Pat McAfee, who was the Colts’ punter, kickoff specialist, and field goal holder. Presumably, Locke will at least handle punting and kickoff duties, and perhaps the holding duties too. He’s traditionally only been a punter, but it’s very unlikely that the Colts will ask Adam Vinatieri to handle the kickoff duties and it’s even more unlikely that they’d carry a third kicker on the roster to do so. The logical conclusion? It’ll probably be Locke as the kickoff guy.
Ultimately, what this does is it addresses the position with a free agent that likely means the Colts won’t use a draft pick on a punter, freeing them up to address other positions in the late rounds (though the Colts’ last pick is currently in the fifth round). Locke isn’t great, but no matter who the Colts got there was going to be a huge dropoff from McAfee.
Here’s what Eric J. Thompson of Daily Norseman said about Locke signing with the Colts:
The terms of the agreement weren’t immediately available. Locke had a tumultuous first three seasons in Minnesota, but the 2016 season was probably his best overall. Outside of the Cowboys game where he shanked a couple of crucial kicks, Locke was much more dependable and consistent last season. That said, it shouldn’t be incredibly difficult for the Vikings to find a suitable replacement for Locke in free agency or the draft. Meanwhile, the Colts are also an indoor team, which obviously suits Locke better than it did in the TCF Stadium days.
The Colts’ first free agent move of the year? Signing a punter. Maybe it’s not the most exciting stuff, but still a position the Colts needed to address.