BUFFALO, N.Y. (BVM) – Though typically a forgotten position in the grand scheme of the NFL, the punter has become one of the main focuses for the Buffalo Bills during the preseason. First, it was because of rookie punter Matt Araiza due to his booming kicks and subsequent lawsuit. Now, the Bills are left in quite the conundrum as they released Araiza on Sunday just days after releasing their only other punter on the roster, Matt Haack. On Friday, when the investigation surrounding Araiza was still ongoing, the Bills decided to use backup quarterback Matt Barkley as their main punter during the team’s third preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.
Matt Barkley’s second punt is a 53-yard coffin corner job, pinning the Panthers inside their own 10-yard line. Maybe he was The Punt God all along! pic.twitter.com/obWSUuXOU4
— Doug Farrar ✍ (@NFL_DougFarrar) August 27, 2022
Now, the Bills would never have gone into the regular season using a backup signal-caller as their top punter, likely waiting for the 53-man roster cutdowns happening league-wide Tuesday to make their ultimate signing, but a decision by another team may have helped the franchise land one of the top legs on the market. On Monday, NFL insider Adam Schefter tweeted that the Tennessee Titans plan on releasing veteran punter Brett Kern.
Titans informed longtime Brett Kern that they are releasing him, per source. Kern has punted for the Titans since 2009; Ryan Stonehouse from Colorado State looks as if he has won the job.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 29, 2022
Kern has been one of the league’s top punters during his time in Tennessee. The 36-year-old has been with the Titans since he was claimed off waivers from the Denver Broncos in 2009. The punter has played in 219 career games, averaging 45.9 yards per punt while registering a 79-yard long and has the eight most punts down inside the 20 in NFL history, according to The Football Database. Since his signing, he has become the franchise’s best punter, holding numerous team records.
Brett Kern owns the #Titans franchise records for:
— Wes on Broadway (@TitansStats) August 29, 2022
The three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro likely would’ve been on the Bills‘ radar anyway given his strong track record, but one factor that makes him an even more intriguing prospect for the team is the fact he’s a hometown hero of sorts. Kern was born and played high school football in Grand Island, New York, just 12 short miles away from Buffalo and roughly 25 miles away from the team’s Highmark Stadium. With that being said, the punter not only has a connection with the city, but he also knows how to play in its conditions, which any NFL fan knows can be harsh in the winter.
While the Bills roster isn’t a punter away from Super Bowl contention, as they have a roster largely considered the best in the league, adding a Pro Bowl caliber leg certainly wouldn’t hurt especially following the negative media coverage garnered by the ongoing Araiza situation. Though the decision will ultimately come down to Kern and what other offers he gets, a chance to join one of the top teams in the league while also returning to his hometown has to be appealing, to say the least.