The Cincinnati Bengals have many priorities this off-season, but not all of those priorities receive the attention they deserve in the media. Everyone knows that the Bengals will have to sort out positions such as cornerback, right tackle, defensive end and outside linebacker this off-season, but few of those same people realize that the Bengals’ special teams unit needs to be addressed. Punter Kevin Huber, kickers Josh Brown, Mike Nugent and kick returner Adam Jones are all free agents this off-season. Brown and Nugent face the prospect of competing with each other in training camp next season, while Jones is likely to return unless he gets a massive offer elsewhere.
That leaves Huber as the only player with a relatively unclear immediate future. The 27-year-old has been the team’s punter for the past four seasons since entering the league in 2009. The Bengals thought highly enough of Huber when he was coming out of college to select him in the fifth round of the draft, 142nd overall. Since then, the former University of Cincinnati prospect has developed from season-to-season.
As a rookie, Huber averaged 43.2 yards per punt on 88 attempts. He had a long of 61 and placed 24 kicks inside the opposition’s 20 compared to 10 touchbacks and 15 fair catches. In 2010, his second season, Huber punted 71 times with an average of 42.1 yards per punt. He also had one punt blocked, 26 inside the opposition’s 20 and 10 touchbacks with 15 fair catches. The following year, 2011, he had a career high 91 punts with a 44.2 average, 24 inside the opposition’s 20 and nine touchbacks to 26 fair catches.
In the final season of his rookie deal, Huber set a career high in average per punt, 46.6, and punts inside the 20, 33. On just 76 punts, he had seven touchbacks and 14 fair catches. Throughout his whole career, only once have the Bengals given up a touchdown return on a punt and only once has he had one blocked on over 300 attempts.
Huber is a fine punter who should get a long-term contract offer from the Bengals, but could get even bigger deals on the open market. If the Bengals want to be aggressive at the position, they will give Huber a long-term deal or offer the Oakland Raiders‘ Shane Lechler a massive contract to acquire the best punter in the league.