The most overlooked NFL player on any roster has to be the punter. All they do is kick the ball high in the air, and they only do it when their team fails to get a first down or get close enough to the end zone to score or kick a field goal.
While many may overlook these players and even sometimes disrespect them, true fans know how important a good punter can be for a team. These specialized kickers help teams win the battle for field position, one of the most critical aspects of the game.
NFL owners and executives know the value of a good punter too and pay some of these players, especially the highest-paid punters in the NFL, handsomely.
The No. 2 highest-paid punter in the NFL just signed an extension in 2021
A 2021 offseason contract extension didn’t make Seattle Seahawks punter Michael Dickson the highest-paid punter in the NFL, but the 25-year-old Aussie is now a close second.
Dickson was scheduled to make $3.4 million in the last season of his rookie contract, per ESPN, which is more than most fourth-year punters. Making the Pro Bowl in his rookie season, led to bigger raises over the life of his first contract.
Dickson’s new deal only gives him a slight salary bump in 2021, taking his it up to $3.6 million for the season. However, the contract comes with a $6 million signing bonus and $14 million in additional money over the four years.
To become the NFL’s second-highest-paid punter, Dickson took an interesting path as part of a program in his home country called Prokick Australia. The developmental organization helps young Aussies learn how to kick for American football and earn scholarships to U.S. universities.
Dickson went from that program to the University of Texas before the Seahawks picked him in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft.
The highest-paid punter in the NFL is the Los Angeles Rams’ Johnny Hekker
Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker is currently the highest-paid punter in the NFL, but that might not be true for long.
Hekker signed with the then-St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State in 2012. He has stayed with that organization for his entire career, earning four trips to the Pro Bowl and four First-Team All-Pro nods.
Those stellar seasons led to a contract that will pay the punter a base salary of $3.75 million in 2021. Adding in bonuses, Hekker’s cap hit for the coming season is $4.9 million. There are currently two additional years on the deal as well, which will pay him a base of $4 million in 2022 and $4.2 million in 2023.
Hekker’s high cap hit, coupled with the fact the punter had his worst statistical year in 2020, according to Yahoo! Sports, led the Rams to sign two other punters to compete for the job in training camp.
Former Buffalo Bills punter Corey Bojorquez and Brandon Wright, a second-year undrafted free agent who appeared in one game for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020, are currently on the Rams’ roster.
If Hekker can hold on to his job for 2021, he will likely remain the highest-paid punter in the NFL, and if not, Dickson will move up to the top spot.
Who is the lowest-paid punter in the NFL?
There is a highest-paid person in every profession, so there has to be a lowest-paid as well. There are eight punters who currently make the league minimum and share the distinction of being the lowest-paid punter in the NFL. The NFL minimum salary in 2021 of $660,000.
Several of these players will likely be cut in training camp. However, there is a good chance at least one, if not more, will win a job and hold the honor of being the NFL’s lowest-paid punter in 2021.
The punters going into the 2021 season on NFL minimum deals are Wright, Ryan Winslow (Green Bay Packers), Max Duffy (Denver Broncos), James Smith (Tennessee Titans), Dom Maggio (Atlanta Falcons), Tyler Newsome (Arizona Cardinals), and Nolan Cooney (New Orleans Saints).
All contract figures courtesy of spotrac