The Detroit Lions let punter Sam Martin go this offseason in a move that left many fans scratching their heads. Martin had his ups and downs in Detroit, but he left after a mostly-successful reign that included a four-year contract extension back in 2016 and one of the best punting seasons in NFL history—averaging 44.2 net yards per punt with 23 inside the 20-yard line and just three touchbacks. He’s currently 10th all-time in punt average and just turned 30.
So why would the Lions let that go?
Martin provided a little clarity on Friday when he joined the Pat McAfee Show. According to Martin, the Lions offered him a contract, but he found the offer from the Denver Broncos more appealing.
“I did have an offer to go back to Detroit, and was definitely interested in going back to Detroit,” Martin said. “But Denver, as a punter, is a really appealing place to go. Once we started talking with them, it became a reality that I could end up there.”
"All the praise I used to get from @MattPrater_5 on Denver on a weekly basis about how much he loved the city and Colorado in general it became a place where I really wanted to land"— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) May 29, 2020
New #Broncos punter @SamMartin_6 on what went into his Free Agent decision #PatMcAfeeShowLIVE pic.twitter.com/eojQemIfwi
Martin said that after talking to Denver’s coaching staff and chatting with former teammate Matt Prater—who built his career for seven years with the Broncos—Denver seemed like a very attractive place to land in free agency.
Then, of course, there was the money.
“Detroit was definitely on still the table, but Denver was a little more appealing, and the contract was as well,” Martin said.
Denver ended up handing Martin a three-year, $7.05 million contract including $2 million guaranteed. The Lions, on the other hand, currently have two punters under contract: Jack Fox (one year, $610,000) and rookie Arryn Siposs (three years, $2.3 million). Neither player has attempted a punt in the NFL yet.