The news about punter Sam Koch signing a five-year contract extension with the Ravens is a classic win-win.
It's a good move for the Ravens, no doubt. By signing Koch, they enhance the stability of their special teams, which have ranked among the NFL's best in recent years, in no small part because of Koch, who had a monster year in 2014. They also give themselves some immediate salary cap relief, as Koch's cap number for 2015 is bound to go down, giving them more latitude to make other moves.
Perhaps most importantly, they get to erase Koch from their contractual to-do list going forward – a move they're going to appreciate as they continue to work to retain key players such as Marshal Yanda, Justin Tucker and Kelechi Osemele, all of whom could become free agents after the 2015 season.
Koch was in precisely the same position and certainly would have fared well if he had elected to let his contract expire and test the waters of free agency next year. He is consistent, durable, the Ravens' all-time "ironman" (144 straight games played) and seemingly only getting better as he goes along, having produced the NFL's No. 1 net average of 43.3 yards per punt in 2014.
But instead of seeing how much the market might bear for his varied services (he also holds on kicks), Koch agreed to re-up with the only team he has ever played for; a team on which he is a popular and respected locker room elder and holder of franchise records for gross punting average (45.0), net average (39.0) and career total of punts downed inside the 20-yard line (251).
Although Koch's new salary average of $3.25 million per year only ranks seventh among punters, according to ESPN, he's still among the league's best-paid players at his position. And now, he is set up to finish his career where he started it, as one of the few "Ravens lifers" along with Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis and possibly Terrell Suggs.
That's a win for Koch, I would say.
Sure, he could have gone to another team, but he's comfortable and appreciated in Baltimore, and as he said Thursday, "It has always been my idea that I'll be a Raven for life."
An extension for Yanda, Tucker or Osemele would have made a bigger splash, but an extension for Koch is an important, under-the-radar move that makes both sides happy. The quality of the Ravens' special teams has been a key ingredient in their success in recent years, and with Koch locked up, the framework for more success is in place.