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How the Dolphins Landed a Clear Upgrade at Punter

Veteran punter Thomas Morstead's aggressive approach led him to joining the Miami Dolphins

The signing of punter Thomas Morstead certainly wasn't among the most noteworthy moves the Miami Dolphins made this offseason, but that doesn't mean it wasn't significant.

While it may not have been to the same degree as what the additions of Tyreek Hill or Terron Armstead might mean, adding Morstead provided a clear and significant upgrade for the Dolphins at his position.

And there's certainly an interesting back story how it came about.

Morstead's Impressive Credentials

Let's first start with Morstead's resume and how he could or should improve the team's punting.

Here's the stat that stands out: The Dolphins have not had a punter average more than 45.0 yards in any season since 2015 when Matt Darr averaged 47.6.

Morstead has averaged under 45.6 yards  in only two of his 13 NFL seasons, and has a carer average of 46.6.

The Dolphins got a bargain when they signed Morstead to a one-year contract worth a little less than $1.3 million, which puts him in the middle of the pack among punters.

Morstead joined the Dolphins after splitting time with the Falcons and Jets in 2021 following 12 seasons with the Saints, with whom he was among the highest-paid punters toward the end of his time in New Orleans.

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The Saints released Morstead after the 2020 season, which was one of those two when he failed to average more than 45 yards (he was at 43.1). Morstead rebounded nicely last season, averaging 47.1 yards and earning NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for his week in December.

"I had a great career in New Orleans, 12 years, Super Bowl, Pro Bowl and whenever I was done there, I just wasn’t done," Morstead said. "My kids are getting old enough now that they know what’s going on, they got to see dad respond to getting fired and having to persevere a little bit. It was a good opportunity for me to show them how I felt was best to respond and they’re old enough to know what’s going on now. We wanted to provide them a great experience that hopefully they’ll remember as a positive one.”

Morstead's Happy Miami Memory

Morstead already has had a memorable experience in Miami, and that happened in the Super Bowl at the end of the 2009 season.

With the Saints trailing 13-6, Morstead opened the second half by perfectly executing an onside kick. New Orleans recovered the ball, went on a touchdown drive and ended up winning, 31-17.

“Yeah, I haven’t been back here in 13 years," Morstead pointed out. "Last time I stepped off this field, we won the Super Bowl and I had glitter all over my shoes. It was a great experience. Eight years later (in 2017), we played the Dolphins away in London, so I haven’t been back. I’m really looking forward to getting back in the stadium. Although it was a long, long time ago, in certain ways it was just like yesterday. I’m excited to be back in there.”

Morstead made it happen by reaching out to the Dolphins after the team didn't re-sign free agent Michael Palardy, who averaged 44.7 yards in 2021 in his first season with the team.

And just like that, the Dolphins were on their way to adding one of the best punters in NFL history — Morstead is tied for eighth on the all-time list with his 46.6 average, right behind former Dolphins punter Brandon Fields at 46.7.

"I won’t get too specific about it because it’s team business but I actually reached out to them," Morstead said. "There was no punter on the roster and I thought Miami seems like a nice place to play. Financially, I was willing to take a veteran salary benefit deal and I don’t think they knew that, so I just made it clear. They said, ‘Well, get on a plane and come out here and see if you like it.’

"I’ve made a lot of money in my career and these experiences are just, when it’s over it’s over. I love doing everything there is to it. I love the training. I love the grind of the workouts. Obviously, I’m a little bit different than most of my teammates. I’m not hitting a lot and things like that. At least if I’m doing my job well, I’m not. I just love being a part of it. I love being depended on and it’s special being a part of an NFL locker room. Especially when you have a first-year coach with some reasonably high expectations. It’s fun to be a part of that and be a part of building something and building a culture. I’m just excited to be here.”