Welcome to the final article in our series on the Buffalo Bills’ pending free agents. I will go through the Bills’ current crop of free agents and give the arguments for re-signing them or letting them walk.
Years: 10 (seven in Detroit, two in Denver, one in Buffalo)
Last Contract: one year, $1.2 million.
Sam Martin had pedestrian numbers when it came to punting in 2022. Martin was PFF’s 19th-rated punter and metrics back that up. Martin ranked 14th in yards per attempt, 19th in average net punt, 25th in punts downed inside the 20, ninth in return rate, and 28th in average hang time. Martin’s punts were good enough to have the fourth-best yards per return average in the NFL.
Case for Re-signing
Perhaps this isn’t the most exciting reasoning, but you know what you are getting. In an offseason that may see many moving parts, including the departure of long-time special teamers like Tyler Matakevich, Jaquan Johnson, and Taiwan Jones, having a veteran punter who understands how special teams coach Matthew Smiley wants to play may be worth the small luxury. Martin was the 16th highest-paid punter per Over the Cap at $1.2 million in 2022. If Martin was willing to play on the same price tag in 2023, it could be seen as worth it to avoid the headache of finding a new punter. Not to mention it would be hard to picture Brandon Beane spending draft capital on a punter two years in a row. Additionally, Martin showed very few, if any, issues with holding field goals last season. Martin’s chemistry with Tyler Bass and Reid Ferguson is another the Bills could deem it worthy to bring him back.
Case for Letting Him Walk
What have I said throughout this series? Every dollar matters for this version of the Buffalo Bills. Sam Martin was far from a top punter in 2022. Can the Bills find similar production from an undrafted free agent? 2022 Vikings UDFA punter Ryan Wright finished as PFFs 13th ranked punter and carried the 13th-highest yards per attempt, while fellow UDFA Ryan Stonehouse led the entire league.
Though Sam Martin hasn’t done enough to make him a must-have player on the 2023 Bills, the Bills also don’t have many other options. The Bills can likely bring back Martin with little to no guaranteed money. At the same time, they can try to find a rookie punter in the late rounds of the draft or in the UDFA pool. Like last year, the punt position deserves a true competition come training camp.