BALTIMORE — It is not often that so much attention is paid to the kicker, long snapper and punter. However, in the case of the Baltimore Ravens, their group of specialists is of the utmost importance.
The Ravens recently signed kicker Justin Tucker to a four-year, $16.8 million contract. Punter Sam Koch recently signed a long-term contract of his own. Koch’s deal was a five-year, $16.2 million contract.
Even Morgan Cox, who is solely a long snapper got a long-term deal. His contract will pay him $5 million over five years.
The three specialists call themselves “The Wolf Pack.” Tucker’s deal is the biggest, but they were excited to know he will be with them for the coming years.
“I heard from Morgan [Cox] and Sam [Koch] just a little bit ago,” Tucker said. “They both sent their congratulations, and Morgan made sure to let us know next time we play credit card roulette, we are going to have to go to a nice restaurant and only use my card.
“It is all good things; I’m definitely pumped to be able to continue to work with those guys. They have been awesome for me these last four years on the football field and also off of it as good friends and teammates.”
It is no coincidence that such an emphasis is placed on special teams. Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh was once a special teams coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles. The team spends a good portion of practice working on special teams. Tucker is very appreciative of the focus on specialists.
“I’ve got to give a shout out to [kicking consultant] Randy Brown and [Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach] Jerry Rosburg and ‘Harbs’ [Head Coach John Harbaugh],” Tucker said after signing his deal. “Really everybody for helping me have the level of success that I’ve had these last four seasons. I’m glad to be able to keep it going for the foreseeable future.”
The result of the focus on special teams is having one of the top units in the NFL. Koch consistently ranks among the league leaders in average yards per punt. Often times, he pins opposing teams deep in their own territory.
The relay of Cox to Koch are a reliable option for Tucker when he kicks field goals. “To me, it is imperative to have a quality long snapper and a quality holder before you worry about how good your kicker is,” Tucker said. “You have to have the first two steps before the ball leaves anybody’s foot, and those two are the best in the business.”
Tucker has been to the Pro Bowl before. The same can now be said of his fellow specialist Cox and Koch. Both of them went to the Pro Bowl for the first time last year. The three plan to make many more Pro Bowls in the future.
“Sam was obviously rewarded with his first trip to a Pro Bowl this last year, but we have known all along how good he is as a punter,” Tucker said. “To be able to work with those guys, to be able to learn from each other over these last four years, has been awesome.
“Knowing that we are going to be able to keep going and hopefully make ourselves some of the longer-tenured specialists – one of the more-tenured specialist units in football – I think that the opportunity to do that is a very good deal.”