Saturday, August 31, 2013

Patriots give veteran punter Mesko the boot


When there's a close competition for a special teams position, the younger and cheaper player usually wins.

That looks to be the guideline the New England Patriots followed by announcing the release veteran punter Zoltan Mesko on Saturday, giving the starting punting duties to undrafted rookie Ryan Allen.

A member of the Patriots since 2010, Mesko earned himself a competition this year by ranking 29th in the league in punting average last season. The team brought in Allen, who was the first-ever back-to-back winner of the Ray Guy Award at Louisiana Tech, given to the nation's best punter.

The two had similar statistics through four preseason games, with Mesko averaging 44.6 yards per kick and Allen averaging 45.9. However, Allen was able to pin four of his nine kicks inside the opponent's 20-yard line, while Mesko was only able to get two of his 14 punts inside the 20.

But a critical factor was likely Allen's $405k salary, which is nearly $1 million less than the $1.3 million owed to Mesko in 2013.

After all, it makes sense to invest as little as possible into a position as rarely used as punter for a Tom Brady-led offense.

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