Sam Koch's Future Uncertain After Ravens Draft Punter

P Jordan Stout (AP Photo/Barry Reeger); P Sam Koch (Baltimore Ravens/Shawn Hubbard)

The Ravens' decision to draft punter Jordan Stout in the fourth round leaves questions regarding the future of veteran punter Sam Koch.

Koch has played more games (256) than any other Raven, but he turns 40 in August and is entering the final year of his contract. According to Spotrac, Baltimore can save a reported $2.1 million by releasing Koch, who has the third-highest cap figure ($3.175 million) among NFL punters.

General Manager Eric DeCosta used the word "iconic" regarding Koch's career as an NFL punter. DeCosta said a decision on Koch's future had not been made, and talked about how important he has been to the Ravens since being a sixth-round pick in 2006 of out Nebraska.

"Sam's a part of the fabric of this team," DeCosta said. "He's been here since 2006. This guy was a sixth-round pick, non-Combine player. Played at Nebraska. I'm very proud of the pick.

"We did talk to Sam, earlier today before the draft started, just to kind of tell him that there was going to be the potential that we might draft a punter. What that means is we drafted a punter. Moving forward we're not exactly sure what's going to happen. I really just want to celebrate the guy we drafted."

The Ravens made Stout the first punter drafted in 2022 (130th overall) and he's the earliest punter drafted since Bryan Anger (70th overall) in 2012 by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Stout led the nation in average hangtime last year (4.36 seconds) and had the highest overall grade from Pro Football Focus at 93.1. He was named Big Ten Punter of the Year and set school records for single-season punting average (46.55 yards this season) and career average (44.81).

Head Coach John Harbaugh said leg strength was just one aspect of Stout's game that was impressive when the Ravens worked him out. Koch has been an expert holder for placekicker Justin Tucker, part of the formula that has made Tucker the most accurate kicker in NFL history.

Moving on from Koch would meaning finding someone else to hold for Tucker, but Stout was a holder in college and Harbaugh said he looked solid.

"When we worked him out, we studied the tape in terms of the holding," Harbaugh said. "You watch Jordan, he reminds you a lot of Sam coming out. Leg strength is a part of it. In terms of the footwork, the technique, hit the ball quick, efficiency, the way you control the punt. It reminds you a lot of Sam."

Harbaugh praised Koch for his professionalism, as Stout joins the Ravens as the punter who could be Koch's replacement.

"I've never been around a better pro than Sam," Harbaugh said. "He's more a player-coach in a way. He's one of the all-time greats. Jordan will come in and learn from him and we'll just see where it goes."

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