The Seahawks cut punter Jon Ryan today, and did him a big favor in the process. It will make sense soon enough, trust me.
The Seattle Seahawks released their longest tenured player today when they released their punter of the past ten seasons, Jon Ryan. This wasn’t exactly unexpected. After all, when you trade up to draft a punter in the fifth round, you probably expect the new kid to make the team. And now Michael Dickson has done just that.
Ryan will be missed for much more than his leg. He’s been a favorite of the 12s for years. His sense of humor has been as big a part of his presence as his leg. Just check out some of his virtuoso work on Twitter, if you’ve forgotten. He’s been one of the best in the league for ten years – although at times he apparently felt like a forgotten man. That’s what happens when you punt a lot less than most of the other guys.
While Ryan has been one of the top punters in the NFL for years, last season saw a bit of a decline. While his 45.0 yard average put him solidly in the middle of the pack, his net punting yardage told a far different story. Ryan ranked 17th in average yards per punt, but his net average of 38.8 yards dropped him all the way to 30th in the league. The average punt return allowed was 10.0 yards.
Of course that isn’t all on Ryan, but with better hang time, the special teams would have more time to get downfield to make the play. Four punters had an average return of less than 5.0 yards last season. This is exactly why the Seahawks traded up in the draft to get Dickson. It isn’t that Ryan is bad, by any means. But last season, he was no longer one of the very best.
Saturday’s game made the decision for the Seahawks
On the other hand, Dickson looks like a real game-changer. We saw it in Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, when Dickson pinned the return man inside the ten. Ryan outkicked his coverage, which resulted in a 72 yard punt return. I’m sure that punt, as much as anything, convinced the Seahawks it was time to let Ryan go.
So how can I say Ryan was released with the best intentions? It’s simple. Seattle doesn’t have to make the cut to 53 players until after the last preseason game. They’re taking a bit of a risk in letting Ryan go now. What if Dickson get’s injured? What if he gets the yips, now that he knows it’s all on him? You never know how things will go. One thing’s for sure, Dickson has some big shoes to fill when it comes to competitive fire. Jon Ryan backs down from no challenges.
Letting Ryan go now gives him time to get a fair shot with another team. Take away that ill-advised line drive that was returned for the touchdown, and Ryan’s net average for the preseason is right around 41 yards per punt. That easily puts him right back in the top half of the league. Both Detroit and Minnesota would get an upgrade with Jon Ryan in town. I have no doubts we’ll see plenty of Jonathan Robert Ryan on Sundays this fall. Godspeed to you, sir, and thanks for ten terrific years with the Seahawks.