The NFL is a business. It's great when a team can hold on to a player for his entire career, like the San Diego Chargers appear to be doing with both Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, but when a player's production drops so drastically that the team is stuck paying significantly more than what that player is worth.....
Well, the salary cap says that's not a very good idea.
Unfortunately, that's the exact situation that the Chargers are stuck in this offseason. Mike Scifres, who may or may not be flirting with retirement, has a year left on his contract that pays him a lot more than what he's actually worth.
For a team that went 4-12 last year and is hoping to find its way back into the playoffs while Rivers and Gates are still playing at a high level, they can't really afford to pay a punter significantly more than what he's actually worth.
Here are the numbers
Mike Scifres will cost the team $4,162,500 against the salary cap in 2016 if he remains on the roster. That makes him the 3rd or 4th highest paid punter in the entire league, depending on if you're going by cash or cap hit.
An average cap hit for a punter in 2016 is about $2 million, which means that Scifres is making about twice as much as an average punter.
Looking at the stats available for punters, or by using your eyes, it's pretty easy to see that Scifres was not twice as valuable as an average punter in 2015.
- Mike Scifres was 27th in the league in terms of net punting yards
- Mike Scires was tied for 31st in the league in terms of downing his punts inside the opposing team's 20 yard line
- Mike Scifres was 26th in the league in terms of fair catches forced
- Mike Scifres, once known for his big kicking leg, was 19th in terms of average length on his punts
Cash the paycheck
This really isn't meant to be a knock against Mike Scifres. He's a great guy and has been a great punter for most of his career. In fact, I'd go so far to say that his performance over the last couple of years has gone down because of the beating his body has taken. I don't think he's been healthy since early 2010, and it's amazing that he's played pretty consistently since then.
That being said, I think Scifres knows that his body isn't right. I think he knows that he's overpaid. I think Mike Scifres is just trying to hold on through the life of his contract in hopes of making as much money as possible for himself, his family, and his retirement.
Taking the money when you know you're overpaid is fine! I would be doing the exact same thing if I were Scifres. He has to do what's in the best interest of himself and his family. However, this article is about what the Chargers should be doing.
Here are the (real) numbers
The San Diego Chargers will save $3,562,500 in salary cap space by releasing Mike Scifres this offseason. That's enough to pay for an average punter and then some.
The Chargers should absolutely use a late-round draft pick on a punter, which means they can get the best punter in the draft, , and use the savings to pick up someone once the first round of roster cuts happen in August.