While researching free agent LBs Ray Lewis and Bart Scott, I came across this quote about Baltimore's restricted free agent P Sam Koch:
Too be honest, I think one of the biggest MUST signs is Sam Koch. A lot of people do not realize how important that man is in winning games for us by making offenses drive 90+ on our defense. Plus, he is only 27 years old and WILL one day be a pro bowler.
Looking at the stats, Koch was 7th best last season with a net average of 39.9 yards and he was 2nd best at pinning their opponents inside the 20 yard line. He did that 34 times last season. In comparison, the Packers disaster combo of P Derrick Frost and Jeremy Kapinos only pinned opponents inside the 20 only 15 times and their net average was around 35-36 yards.
This isn't a post just targeting Koch. There are a couple other good free agent punters, including Indianapolis' P Hunter Smith, Oakland's P Shane Lechler, and ex-Packer P Craig Hentrich. It's sad that the Packers have never found a punter anywhere near as good as Hentrich since he left after the 1997 season. Lechler is the best of that bunch, but he's likely to draw the most interest in free agency too.
Teams rarely spend big on a punter, well, because it's a punter. You can bring a few guys in on a tryout, sign the best one, and it will probably work out fine. Unfortunately, that route has not gone well for the Packers during GM Ted Thompson's era. Former P Jon Ryan was ok, but he was and is a below average punter. It might be time to get serious and pursue a free agent punter.
If they do, Koch might be the best choice. Lechler is great, but he will cost more money. Whether Koch will cost more, since he's a restricted free agent he might cost a draft pick, will depend on the contract Baltimore will offer him. Baltimore has $19 million of cap space, but they also have a lot of big name free agents. They might not feel they can afford to squander any of it on a punter. Smith is not great and Hentrich will turn 38 in 2009, so neither is a great choice.
As it stands on the current roster, Kapinos is scheduled to battle P Durant Brooks, and he was a major bust last season in Washington. Whether it's through the draft, signing undrafted free agents, or signing a restricted/unrestricted free agent, the Packers have to do something to find a better punter in 2009.