The Oakland Raiders and punter Marquette King had a not so amicable farewell, but Oakland has an incentive to give King his old job back.
The Raiders struggled in many areas last year and their punt game was no different. Even though Oakland has upgraded many areas through both free agency and the 2019 NFL Draft, their punting game continues to be an area of concern.
Last year, punter Johnny Townsend averaged 43.2 for the Raiders and ranked 29 out of 33 qualifying players, nothing to be proud of and something that Oakland has to fix if they don’t want their special teams performance to affect the rest of the team and be the difference between making it to the playoffs or not. Field position may not seem that important on the surface, but all other areas of the team benefit from it.
To fix their punting game, the Raiders signed Drew Kaser to compete with Townsend for the job, but neither Kaser, who hasn’t had much success in the NFL, or Townsend inspire much confidence. Their work ethic should not be questioned as they are really making an effort to better themselves, but their performance or lack thereof shows that the team needs to think outside the box if they don’t want their special teams to become a liability.
Marquette King had been an asset to the Raiders punting game and he was always counted on to do his job and pretty much delivered until last year when head coach Jon Gruden was hired. From the get-go, King and Gruden clashed, the former wanted to clown around while doing his job, and the latter wanted to install discipline, his vision and a new locker room culture.
Long story short, King signed with rival Denver after Oakland cut him. He went on to bad mouth his old team, make a video about how he disliked the organization and disrespected his former teammates left and right. King couldn’t get his payback as his only year with the Broncos was injury-marred and was cut after being placed on IR.
Earlier this year, King talked about being remorseful and even apologized online to Gruden and the team. He talked about not being in his right mind and even implied that he would like to go back to Oakland. It’s clear why the Raiders would not want King back, but they both could benefit from a reunion.
As mentioned before, Oakland is unsettled at punter and the solution doesn’t seem to currently be on the team or what is left of free agency. Kaser would never be confused with former Raiders punter Shane Lecher and Townsend’s subpar performance has been discussed. On the other hand, demand outweighs the finite amount of competent punters in the market, as in all decent players have already been signed so Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock have to think outside the box.
King played through injuries last year and his 2018 stats aren’t an indicator of his whole body of work as he is ranked fourth all-time, not last year or a couple of years, in punting average, which means that there have been only three players better than him in the history of the NFL. Signing King would exponentially help the team in one area in which they are ailing.
It might be argued that King burned bridges in Oakland and should not be welcome, but the NFL is a business and being successful means repairing broken relationships. The Raiders have to put their ego aside and sign King, tell him what the rules will be, offer him a one-year prove-it deal and let the river run its course. If he goes back to his mischievous ways, Oakland could cut him without being affected much, but if King performs like the Pro Bowler he’s shown he can be, everyone will benefit from it.
King can have one year to rehabilitate his image and Gruden can see if they have a solution to their punting woes. Many people have pointed out that King is a clown and has no business going back to the Raiders, to what I ask, do you feel comfortable trusting either Kaser or Townsend in critical plays? If not them nor King, who would you bring to punt for Oakland?