For the past two seasons, former Syracuse Orange punter Riley Dixon has been one of this football program’s feel-good stories.
The former walk-on became a legend and special teams dynamo at Syracuse, then parlayed that and a cult following into being selected in the seventh round by the Denver Broncos. He won the job as a rookie, then regressed slightly in year two (but not without making some prom dreams happen). But at a reasonable rookie salary, you’d figure it would be a no-brainer for the Broncos to keep him around.
Naturally, Dixon’s first response was to hurdle and/or punch a defender in response. But after that, it’s likely the SU phenom has played his last game for Denver.
Removing our own personal bias, the move does make some sense for the Broncos. Marquette King, formerly of the Oakland Raiders, put more kicks inside the 20-yard line and had two more yards net punting average. In five seasons in the NFL, he’s averaged nearly 47 yards per punt.
All of that said, Dixon’s shown himself to be better at avoiding touchbacks and forcing fair catches. Those have to count for something, no? Not to mention the intangibles he brings to potential fakes on field goal and punt tries. And all of that for a fraction of what King will make on a three-year deal worth nearly $7 million? Wasn’t money the whole reason Denver went with Dixon over Britton Colquitt to begin with?
Hopefully Dixon lands on his feet with another NFL roster this offseason. His average was 14th overall last year, so it would seem likely he’s able to find work — especially for a lower salary than other names that may be out there.
Good luck, Riley! You’re still the starting punter in our hearts.