What if the Chiefs traded Dustin Colquitt to the Colts?
By Matt Conner
Let’s play general manager for a trade that would benefit the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs both.
Dustin Colquitt is the highest-paid punter in the NFL.
Let’s let that sink in just a bit. Is Dustin Colquitt worth it? Absolutely. He’s a Pro Bowl punter who just enjoyed another stellar season doing what he does best: pinning opponents deep in their own territory. He’s a savvy veteran who hardly ever makes mistakes, and the Chiefs have enjoyed his services since selecting him in the 3rd round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Yep, that’s 12 full seasons of never having to worry about the punter.
In all of that time, Colquitt has only missed two games, way back in October, 2008. He’s an ironman upon whom a team should be able to depend for perhaps another decade. Even at the age of 34, Colquitt seems like he still has as many years ahead of him as he wants to play. Just ask the Buffalo Bills how much they’d love to upgrade from Colton Schmidt for some perspective on how frustrating poor special teams play can be.
But let’s get back to the original statement: the Kansas City Chiefs are paying more for their punter than any team in the NFL. If a team has the requisite cap space, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with paying a punter $4.9 million. Nor is there anything wrong with being at the very top of a category like that. Someone has to occupy that space and if the player is good enough, as in this case, then nothing should be said about it Except, the Chiefs are struggling to have the requisite cap space. Or, to put it another way, the Chiefs could sure use some salary cap relief and the fact that Dustin Colquitt is nearly $5 million of it raises the eyebrows.
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All of which gets us to thinking: what if the Chiefs were to trade Dustin Colquitt? One obvious connection comes through a familiar face who recently switched front offices in Chris Ballard. The Indianapolis Colts new general manager has seen first hand how important great special teams play can be, and Chiefs fans were even nervous about losing Dave Toub to the Colts as their new head coach, if Jim Irsay weren’t being blackmailed by Chuck Pagano somehow. Ballard knows Colquitt well enough to know what he brings, which is important because that’s exactly what the Colts need.
The Colts said goodbye to Pat McAfee earlier this offseason via retirement which means the Colts are going to make a move for a punter at some point. Sure, they could take a flier on a rookie, but the team has some cap room and the new guy will have major shoes to fill (McAfee led the league in yards per punt last season). For a franchise looking to turn the corner and reclaim the AFC South, making sure the special teams unit is airtight is a nice way to head into the new season.
For the Chiefs, it would create a hole for certain, but it’s one that could be patched in a very cost-effective way. If the Chiefs used a fifth round choice on a punter, they’re guaranteed to have their pick of the best that college football has to offer, yet that player would, in this example, make a total of $2.55 million over four years. Yes, that’s one half of what Dustin Colquitt will make next year for a full four years of a new punter.
Colquitt is going to be a free agent again after this season, so the trade value here isn’t sky high, but certainly the Colts would give up some sort of Day 3 draft choice for the chance to use Colquitt, right? They would also be in the driver’s seat to re-sign Colquitt (or would be in line for any compensatory pick if he were to leave after a single year). At least one year of Pro Bowl punting and perhaps a half-decade’s worth. Most teams would certainly trade a Day 3 pick to bring in one of the NFL’s best punters.
For the Chiefs, it would give even more breathing room and a bit more draft capital for John Dorsey to make some maneuvers. The Chiefs are already very deep, so they don’t necessarily need any more draft assets, except that since comp picks are now tradeable, even more ammo could allow Dorsey to move up for the few impact players they need in the earlier rounds. Or he could add future assets by trading out entirely.
If the Chiefs had a bit more financial room, losing Colquitt would be an idiotic proposition. When you have one of the best players in the NFL and the difference is only a couple million, then it’s silly to even think about a switch. But the Chiefs have arguably the single best special teams coach in football at the helm, so they could feel a bit better than most about bringing in a rookie punter. And in doing so, they could gain more draft capital and save significant money in the process. They’re going to have to either pay Colquitt more next season anyway or figure out the future. Perhaps it’s time to do so now.