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Redskins must decide to commit to Hunter Smith or punt

Former head coach Jim Zorn often referred to veteran punter Hunter Smith as "Punter Smith." But even Zorn was clear about Smith's importance to the team.

Smith, who spent his first 10 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, had an $845,000 base salary last season and now is an unrestricted free agent. Under new Coach Mike Shanahan and General Manager Bruce Allen, the Redskins are taking things slowly in free agency, and Smith is, too.

"There are a lot of teams that would like to put together a roster that has a punter on it, and a veteran punter, and Washington is certainly one of those teams," Smith, 32, said Monday evening in a phone interview. "We're just feeling it out and trying to get to where,
hopefully, it's good for everybody, whichever team it is."


After finishing worst in the league in punting in 2008, the Redskins had a top unit last season. With the highest net average (36.8) of a Redskins punter in 10 seasons, Smith played a key role in the improvement of the coverage team with effective hang time. Washington allowed no punts to be blocked, and Smith, who was a positive influence in the locker room, rushed for one touchdown and passed for another.

Last season, Smith's teammates often spoke of what a difference it was to have him on the field. The team's punters during the 2008 season -- Durant Brooks and Ryan Plackmeier -- were wildly inconsistent, making life especially difficult for special teams coordinator Danny Smith.

With Hunter Smith at the position, the Redskins' coverage team suddenly didn't look so bad. Washington was among the NFL leaders in fair catch percentage and other coverage statistics, members of the former coaching staff said after last season. The Redskins did not give up any punt returns for touchdowns.

"I know that Danny Smith appreciates what I did," he said. "But the thing that you have to remember is, you're dealing with a new administration. Whenever there's a new administration in town, people have to develop their perspective on you. I believe I can punt the ball as well as anyone in the league and will continue to for a long time.

"Whether it's with Washington is up to them right now. And we're going to figure that out. Like I said, the position has gained notoriety throughout the league. It's just different. It's a different game now. The importance of the specialist is appreciated a little more. We're
just trying to figure out which place is the best for us."

Smith expects the process to continue for some time.

"It's so early right now," Smith said. "I enjoyed my time there this past year. My desire would be wherever I go to see it be a four- or five-year sort of thing where we could be long term with a team. I would love that.

"But it really is altogether a matter of ownership is going to do what's best for the team in their own opinion. If that's having me, then great. And if not, then we'll move on somewhere else."

By Jason Reid  |  March 8, 2010; 5:54 PM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
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Next: Randle El rejoins the Steelers

Comments

Hunter or punter ... clever.

Posted by: dcsween | March 8, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

MVP!

Posted by: tsaxsteve | March 8, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Hunter Smith, Ryan Lilja, whoever else the Colts want to cast off ... sign em.

Also, starting at offensive guard for the Skins, undrafted rookie, Dace Richardson!

Book it.

Posted by: dcsween | March 8, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Does it matter that 'Los played 100 more snaps? And whether or not Hall is a better cover guy than Rogers, he still is not a good cover corner. Anyone who watched the games knows that Hall's picks were not the result of great "cover" skills. He got his picks in zone coverage and on tipped balls. And I still believe 'Los has better coverage skills.

Posted by: learnedhand1 | March 8, 2010 5:56 PM

If a tree falls in a forest and there's no one there to hear it, is 4th Floor still wrong about Rogers v. Hall?

Posted by: dcsween | March 8, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

"There are a lot of teams that would like to put together a roster that has a punter on it..."

I'm thinking maybe 32 of them...

Posted by: amaranthpa | March 8, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Sucks to say but we would have been a lot worse last year if we did not have Hunter. Sigh

Posted by: Stu27 | March 8, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

The Colts OL struggled in the Super Bowl?

I must have missed that.

Though many think the Saints defense did a great job, most of the Colts drives stopped because of Colt miscues -- the Colt OL had a very good day.

How did the Colts get stopped?

*One drive stopped when a guy committed a false start (ended with a FG)
*One drive ended because Garcon dropped an easy 1st down pass
*One drive ended when Reggie Wayne dropped a TD pass in the end zone.
*One drive ended when Peyton threw it to Tracy Porter
*One drive ended because the Colts went ultra conservative on their own 1 and ran 3 straight runs into the middle of the line in order to run down the clock near the end of the first half

Posted by: zcezcest1 | March 8, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

"There are a lot of teams that would like to put together a roster that has a punter on it..."

I'm thinking maybe 32 of them...

Posted by: amaranthpa

guy knows his math

Posted by: zcezcest1 | March 8, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Does it matter that 'Los played 100 more snaps? And whether or not Hall is a better cover guy than Rogers, he still is not a good cover corner. Anyone who watched the games knows that Hall's picks were not the result of great "cover" skills. He got his picks in zone coverage and on tipped balls. And I still believe 'Los has better coverage skills.

Posted by: learnedhand1 | March 8, 2010 5:56 PM

I don't care if he got the picks by the QB walking over to him and handing him the ball. Are you telling me that CR did not play zone, see any tipped balls or have any chances for ints? When DHall gets a pick, does it matter if he was playing zone or if it was tipped? I'm sure the opposing coach tells his QB - "Hey that pick was ok, Hall was just playing zone."

Posted by: amaranthpa | March 8, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

There is moving slow...and there is moving SLOW! Sign the punter already!!!

Posted by: Lisa_R | March 8, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

hes injury prone, get another one.

Posted by: BMACattack | March 8, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Spiller-May only be a change of pace back in the NFL. He may not be big enough to play every down.

That's a tough pick, I'd take Bryan Bulaga.

Posted by: PAskinsfan17 | March 8, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Man please!!!! We don't need him to be an every down back...

This dude is a BEAST!

Posted by: rickyroge | March 8, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Other than the firing of Vinny, and the drafting of Orakpo, Hunter the Punter was the highlight of last season.

Posted by: 3rings | March 8, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Spiller-May only be a change of pace back in the NFL. He may not be big enough to play every down.

That's a tough pick, I'd take Bryan Bulaga.

Posted by: PAskinsfan17 | March 8, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Man please!!!! We don't need him to be an every down back...

This dude is a BEAST!

Posted by: rickyroge

`


`
they said the same thing about Portis(190lbs coming into the league?) and he slid to the 2nd round.

Spiller has too much "sudden-ness" to be a bust in the NFL. He's a lock to be a really good player.

Posted by: Vicc | March 8, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: amaranthpa | March 8, 2010 6:12 PM

C'mon son. They say reading is fundamental but really reading and comprehending is fundamental. Stick to the subject. We are talking about cover skills. Not the ability to catch a pick. I give Hall credit for being a ball hawk. He still can't cover.

Posted by: learnedhand1 | March 8, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Ryan Lilja would be a good look. He plays LG, not sure how much a difference it would make for him to move to RG, but at least it's worth a conversation.

Posted by: TWISI | March 8, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Cab you even buy a punter jersey?

Posted by: CheyenneWY | March 8, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Our record was 4-12 with the Punter Hunter, just imagine what it would have been without him.

Posted by: _Stumped_ | March 8, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Cab you even buy a punter jersey?

Posted by: CheyenneWY | March 8, 2010 6:26 PM

This is still Amurica. You can buy anything you want if you got the coin.

Posted by: League-Source | March 8, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Vicc | March 8, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Lisa,
Presumably, there is an offer on the table to Hunter and he is waiting to see if there is a better one out there. Then, after the waiting game, Allen will see if he's willing to match it.

Posted by: _Stumped_ | March 8, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

He hasn't been "let go." He's a restricted free agent. He's on the Redskins roster. He wasn't released.

Posted by: League-Source | March 8, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse
Then, correct me if I'm wrong(I know you will), but this means he is under contract for next year, but anyone can sign him with no compensation. Is that correct?

Posted by: frediefritz | March 8, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Shanahan has a ton of issues to address and a crazy number of variables. The punter and kicker issues should be among the easiest. Make the call on whether he wants to keep Smith and deal with other stuff.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | March 8, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I suspect Hunter the Punter wants a lucrative, long-term agreement while Allen and Shanny are worried about him getting more injuries. He'll get signed if they find some middle ground.

Posted by: lordtwang | March 8, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Hunter Smith is a good signing at the right price. Hopefully we get some kind of hometown discount.

Final word on MeAngelo Hall: saw his appearance on NFL Live today...that donkey said in the Fact or Fiction segment that it was fact that the Skins would draft a QB #4. This just hours after his appearance on ESPN "First Take" where he said that the team would go O-line with the pick. If he's as consistent on the field as he is with his answers, I say we cut the clown now.

Posted by: brownwood26 | March 8, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Final word on MeAngelo Hall: saw his appearance on NFL Live today...that donkey said in the Fact or Fiction segment that it was fact that the Skins would draft a QB #4. This just hours after his appearance on ESPN "First Take" where he said that the team would go O-line with the pick. If he's as consistent on the field as he is with his answers, I say we cut the clown now.

Posted by: brownwood26 | March 8, 2010 6:48 PM |

On "First Take" the questioned was asked what would he do if he was GM, he said O-Line.

On fact or Fiction he said they would draft a QB.

So he thinks they should take O-Line but he thinks the FO will take QB.

Posted by: Flounder21 | March 8, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

I seriously doubt that DHall has any more insight into the draft than any of us. I don't know why media guys elicit these kinds of statements when the speaker doesn't really have any inside knowledge.

Posted by: skinsfan713

I agree that the FO should keep everyone, media, agents and players included in the dark about their plans for the draft. Secrecy is the best policy.

The reason why Media Guys ask players these kinds of questions is, what else are they going to ask Hall--what did he think of the interpretive dance number on the Oscars last night?

Posted by: TheCork | March 8, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Lilja a 28 year old lineman was just released by the colts.


MMMMMMM

Posted by: skinball77 | March 8, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Hold up, I need to make sure I'm caught up: we're supposed to hate at least one of our starting cornerbacks, unless we hate both of our starting cornerbacks... do I have that right?

Sheesh... after subtracting Smoot I'm definitely concerned with the corner situation, but I'm not concerned. For example, I'm a lot more worried about the safeties -- particularly getting LaRon back to SS where he belongs -- than I am about the corners.

Carlos and DeAngelo can both play ball, and I don't think either of them are going anywhere. I wish they played better last season, but I wish that about almost everyone who played on that 4-12 team.

Posted by: NateinthePDX | March 8, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Ask him why he had such a terrible season? Ask him why every other play he was chasing some wr down the field? Ask him why he couldn't tackle Jake Delhomme, or any RB he faced all year?.... all better questions than asking him who the Redskins will draft in April....

Our Front Office doesn't know that yet, we still haven't had pro days or individual workouts, anything can happen. Bradford, Clausen, Mccoy haven't thrown yet... who knows what will happen.

Posted by: peoplearestupid1 | March 8, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Nate,
Just to summarize:
- Our CBs are both adequate a$$clowns.
- Not as bad as some, but not as good as we might hope.
- We are not overly concerned with our a$$clowns, but have agreed that they can simply be referred to as A$$clown#1 and Assclown#2 to avoid controversy as to which is the preferred cover a$$clown.

Posted by: _Stumped_ | March 8, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Randle El back with the Steelers. So is Ryan Clark. Players love being a part of that team.

Posted by: TWISI | March 8, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

ARE back with the Steelers.

Ryan Clark resigned with the Steelers as well.

Posted by: Flounder21 | March 8, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey guess what the steelers have signed Randle EL to a three year contract

Posted by: joevick2 | March 8, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

...and I should also add they are not high priorities on our list of anxieties, but when one of them opens their mouth, it just gnaws away at our consciousness; after all, they are a$$clowns.

Posted by: _Stumped_ | March 8, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

The Steelers can have him!


Watch...his first PR will be for a TD!

Posted by: rickyroge | March 8, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Also, starting at offensive guard for the Skins, undrafted rookie, Dace Richardson!

Book it.

Posted by: dcsween | March 8, 2010 5:59 PM |

That dude's knees are shot.

Posted by: edvar | March 8, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Marcus Mason is now a Charger

Posted by: TWISI | March 8, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

why does mike mayock have Earl Thomas as his top safety prospect; i mean even if you didn't think it was Berry wouldn't it be Mays?

is he trying too hard to be different?

Posted by: Vicc | March 8, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Twitter is buzzing that Rex Grossman is in Ashburn tonight.

Posted by: TWISI | March 8, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure ARE signed for a whole lot less $$ than he'd be getting in DC. Probably a good fit for a team that throws as much as the Steelers do these days. I'm doubting they'll him returning punts.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | March 8, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Ryan Clark seems to know how to play off a great FS, a smart move for him to stay in Pittsburgh

Posted by: zcezcest1 | March 8, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

At the risk of taking pride in sounding like a broken record, KEEP HUNTER THE PUNTER. He's one of the few special teamers in the history of the league whom you can count on as a secret weapon to get you out of a jam. The guy should have been designated an honorary member of the offense last year for the way he put points on the board.

Posted by: ericenderle | March 8, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Randle El Beep

Posted by: Curzon417 | March 8, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Damn shame when the punter is one of the only bright spots on the team from last year.......Oh that's right they were 4-12 & 0-6 in the NFC east...

Posted by: dc4life | March 9, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Yes, keep Hunter - a professional and proven commodity.

I'm more concerned with the punt returner. I don't think I can take more punts hitting our punt returner's face mask this season.

Pittsburgh fans can enjoy that this season.

Posted by: clandestinetomcat | March 9, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Get rid of Hunter Smith. His consistently short punts are a BIG liability, and the time he takes to get them off invite blocked kicks, which lose games.

We can do better in free agency. We need a punter who kicks the ball a LOT farther than Hunter Smith ever does.

(And dumping his God-boy schtick suits me, too.)

Posted by: FergusonFoont | March 9, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Posted by Flounder21: "On fact or Fiction he said they would draft a QB. So he thinks they should take O-Line but he thinks the FO will take QB."

Yo! it took me a few to process what D'A said on ForF, partly because there were two consecutive questions that confused the issue. ultimately, it sounded like D'A was saying was:

IF Bradford drops to #4, he fully expects the Skins will snap him up. In any other circumstance, he expects the FO to go early and often for OL help. it seemed he far preferred drafting OL-men and seemed perfectly happy with the notion of JC as the starting QB next year and for years to come.

Posted by: mdrockjock | March 9, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

KEEP HIM...seriously he's the best punter the REDSKINS have had since Matt Turk....

KEEP HIM!

Posted by: GoonieGooGoo | March 9, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

it is strange that the Redskins are taking so much time to evaluate and decide on Albright, Smith and others on ST who are definite contributors.

They may be over 30 but they are very productive.

And it's not like with Clifton (33), Pashos (30) and other guys like Sims (35) and Hicks (31) the Redskins are trying to start a youth movement across the board.

Posted by: leopard09 | March 9, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

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