The Indianapolis Star’s Stephen Holder has reported that Locke’s new deal with the Colts is for 2-years, $3.45 million with $1.25 million in guarantees:
Having been a 2013 5th round pick of the Minnesota Vikings, the 27 year old is coming off a season in which he had 74 punts, averaging 42.6 yards per punt, as well as 39.0 net yards per punt.
To put in perspective, his 42.6 avg. yards per punt ranked 29th in the NFL among punters, whereas his 39.0 net yards per punt avg. ranked 25th respectively.
For comparison purposes (and to pour salt on Colts fans’ wounds), retired All-Pro punter Pat McAfee had a 49.3 avg. yards per punt (1st) and 42.7 net yards per punt average (3rd).
Obviously, Locke is a huge downgrade from McAfee, but that was expected, as the latter was arguably the best punter in the league and easily the best player at his position in Colts franchise history.
McAfee not only handled punts, but also had ‘booming’ kickoffs and was flawless as a holder for legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri. He was going to have incredibly big shoes to fill regardless of who was ultimately replacing him.
As a former All-Pac 12 selection, Locke hasn’t played up to his draft pedigree, but perhaps like another Colts free agent signing on Thursday, Barkevious Mingo, he’s simply a ‘late bloomer’.
With both Britton Colquitt and Shane Lechler re-signing with their current teams earlier this offseason, Locke was arguably one of the only ‘quality’ veteran punters hitting the free agent market–using the term ‘quality’ very loosely.
While Locke should be the frontrunner for the Colts punter position next season, he shouldn’t be considered necessarily a ‘lock’ either in my opinion–pun intended.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the Colts looked to draft a punter in the later rounds or at least added another leg for training camp and to push Locke as part of a ‘healthy competition’.
That being said, the safe bet is that Locke’s the Colts new punter for at least 2017.