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Should re-signing punter Kevin Huber be a priority for the Bengals?

The long-time Bengal could have punted his final punt in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Since being drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Kevin Huber has been a fixture on the Bengals’ roster as the team’s punter. Along with long snapper Clark Harris, Huber is the longest consecutively tenured member of the Bengals (Pat Sims, Michael Johnson, and Andre Smith all left the Bengals for a brief period).

Huber is currently an unrestricted free agent, and the question should be asked whether the Bengals should make it a priority to re-sign him to remain as their punter. According to a report, the Bears are interested in Huber’s services, too.

Looking at the data from the 2017 NFL season, among all qualified punters, Huber finished:

  • 11th best in punting average (46.6)
  • 15th best for percentage of punts inside the opponents 20 yard line (36%)
  • 27th best for percentage of punts inside the opponents 10 yard line (8%)
  • 24th best for making punts unreturnable (45% of his punts were returned)

His punting average was slightly better than the league average (although only by one yard), but when one takes a deeper look at Huber’s numbers, they see the punters who had lower averages than Huber generally had a much higher rate of punts pinning opponents inside the 10 yard line, and a higher rate of un-returnable punts.

Overall, Huber’s numbers essentially make him the Andy Dalton of punters. He’s a solid, productive punter, but not spectacular. There are some who are better, and some who are worse.

The one shining spot on Huber’s resume is his work as a holder. He’s done a solid job as the holder for the Bengals’ place kickers. But when merely looking at him as a punter, he certainly seems to be somebody who fits the Bengals “one in the hand” mentality, which they seek when keeping their own free agents. In the mold of Rey Maualuga, Michael Johnson, Mike Nugent, etc..., etc... he’s a middle of the road veteran, and you know what you’re going to get with him. He won’t be great, but won’t be awful, either. And maybe at the punting position, that’s all you want: a player who isn’t terrible?

Considering it would probably cost well over $1 million to re-sign him, the Bengals could look to the draft to find a low-cost punter of the future for the team. Signing Huber would be nice as he’s a life-long Cincinnati resident and a fixture on the roster. But, it’s probably not among the team’s priorities to re-sign him and if the Bears are ready to fork up $3 million or more for his services (as the top punters are now getting paid), the Bengals likely won’t be matching the deal.