When the Raiders released punter Marquette King Friday, the move was unexpected and shocking.
King had grown into one of the NFL’s top punters, was just 29 and had a flair that most Raiders fans loved. It’s not often that punters are in the limelight, but King’s combination of ultra-strong leg, celebrations and quotes made him a love-him-or-hate-him player around the NFL.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback, for one, was surprised.
“I think the Marquette King cut by the Raiders was stunning – he’s one of the top five punters in the NFL – until you realize the cash-strapped Raiders can save $2.9 million in cap money this year,” wrote King Monday. “I think GM Reggie McKenzie figures, and probably correctly, that of all the moves he could make, cutting the punter and paying a younger punter the NFL minimum is the best of some bad alternatives.”
But the move may say more about the power of new head coach Jon Gruden as much as it does the salary-cap situation and McKenzie’s concerns.
Wrote Kirstie Chaiappelli of The Sporting News: “According to multiple reports, the Raiders released the popular punter Friday because new head coach Jon Gruden had personality issues with the six-year veteran.”
Also, Michael David Smith of Yahoo! Sports reported Gruden as the trigger for King’s release.
“Veteran reporters Bill Williamson and Vic Tafur both reported Gruden was the one who made the call to send King packing, and that Gruden had personality issues with King,” wrote Smith. “What exactly those personality issues were is unclear, but King also drew the ire of former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, who said in 2016 that he was growing tired of King’s antics after King picked up 15-yard personal-foul penalties in back-to-back games.”
In 2017, King was sixth in the NFL in yards per punt (47.4), had a career-best 42.7-yard net average and was tied for 15th in the NFL in punts inside the 20 (28).
Marquette King, however, doesn’t seem too fazed by his sudden departure. He posted a photo of himself on Twitter skateboarding after news of his release.
Already, it’s been reported the Vikings have contacted King’s agent about coming to Minnesota. More teams may soon follow the Vikings’ lead.