We’ve covered some glamorous position groups and some others that are not so glamorous. We continue out our series with the group that most fans don’t think much about. Special teams can win or lose games for you in the blink of an eye. Let’s look at the numbers behind these players and the roster decisions that will be made.
The Browns are currently carrying one long snapper and one punter on their roster. They seem to be locks to make the final roster. There will be some drama when it comes to deciding who will perform the kicking duties for this team. The Browns have two kickers on their 90-man roster and one will be released before the regular season.
Long snapper Charley Hughlett is 27 and recently signed a 6-year deal with the Browns. Yes, that’s a long-term relationship with any player, but the good news is that Hughlett could be here through the 2022 season. It’s also worth noting that the $850,000 signing bonus he received is the end of the guaranteed portion of his contract. The contract would pay Hughlett just over $6 million over the 6-year term.
Britton Colquitt is the Browns 32-year-old punter who signed a 4-year contract in the off-season. The contract would keep Colquitt in Cleveland through the 2020 season at a cost of $11.2 million. His contract is fully guaranteed through 2018. The Browns could cut ties at no cost after the 2018 season. The deal runs through 2020.
Cody Parkey is only 25 years old and came to the Browns as a free agent during the 2016 season. He had a rough start but kicked fairly well down the stretch. He has one non-guaranteed season left on his contract that would pay him $690,000. He would be a free agent in 2018.
The Browns drafted kicker Zane Gonzalez in the 7th round in April. Gonzalez was the consensus best kicker in the draft, yet was the second kicker taken. You have to feel the Browns saw this as a tremendous value pick. Gonzalez signed a four-year $2.5 million deal, but less than $90,000 is guaranteed.
Based on the contract status of both Parkey and Gonzalez, we should expect the best kicker to keep his roster spot. The guaranteed money is not enough to give Gonzalez an edge. However, expect Gonzalez to get the nod based on a 4-year rookie contract if neither wins outright in the competition.
There isn’t much drama among special teams roster spots, but keep your eye on the kickers in the preseason and know that it will be a fair competition. May the best man win!
Rod Bluhm is a Senior Writer for Cleveland Sports Talk