Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dolphins sign punter Britton Colquitt to practice squad

The Miami Dolphins added their second punter to the organization today, signing rookie Britton Colquitt to the practice squad.

No corresponding move has been announced to make room for Colquitt.

Background

It certainly isn't a stretch to say punting is in Colquitt's blood. His father, Craig Colquitt, punted for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts in the 1970s and 1980s, winning two Super Bowls.

Meanwhile, older brother, Jimmy, punted for the Seattle Seahawks in 1985, while other brother, Dustin, currently plays for the Kansas City Chiefs and is one of the league's top punters.

As with all of his pro football-playing relatives, Britton Colquitt was born in Knoxville Tennessee and attended the University of Tennessee.

After red-shirting his first season, Colquitt appeared in 11 games for the Volunteers in 2005 and recorded a 41.2-yard average with 19 of his 59 punts downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

Colquitt was a consensus first-team All-SEC selection after posting a 44.9 average and downing nearly 40 percent of his punts inside the 20 as a red-shirt sophomore in 2006.

As a junior in 2007, Colquitt averaged 41.6 yards per punt and set a new career high with 23 punts downed inside the 20 on his way to second-team All-SEC honors.

Colquitt averaged 43.6 yards per punt as a senior in 2008, forcing 15 fair catches and downing 13 punts inside the 20-yard line out of 42 punts. He also went 0-for-1 on a field goal attempt over 50 yards.

Colquitt encountered a string of alcohol-related incidents during his time in college, including a five-game suspension and loss of scholarship in February 2008 prior to his senior season.

Rated one of the better punters in the 2009 NFL Draft, Colquitt went undrafted and signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent on April 28. He posted a 41-yard punting average in three preseason games with the Broncos, but lost the competition to Brett Kern and was waived on Sept. 1.

Colquitt initially worked out for the Dolphins in early October, according to his agent. He also tried out for the Cleveland Browns in November when Dave Zastudil was injured.

As a practice squad player, Colquitt will earn $5,200 per week and participate in all team practices, but will not be allowed to participate in games unless signed to the active roster. He is eligible to signed by any team at any point, and his contract will expire at season's end.

Analysis

It's a little unusual to see a punter signed to the practice squad, and there could be a couple reasons for the move.

Despite his troubled past, Colquitt is certainly a solid punting prospect with a great pedigree. He clearly had some maturity issues in college, but was one of the SEC's better punters and definitely has a pro leg.

The Dolphins' current punter—2007 seventh-round pick Brandon Fields—has a great leg and is having his best season to date, averaging 46.2 yards per punt with a 39.7 net average and 21 of 66 boots downed inside the 20.

That being the case, it's extremely unlikely Colquitt has been brought in to push Fields for his job in any way. Fields has certainly established himself as a pro whereas Colqutit has not, and Fields ranks seventh in the NFL in punting average this season.

More likely, Colquitt has been signed to give Fields a breather and keep him fresh for games at this late point in the season, or he'll fill in for Fields in practice if he has some minor injury.

Colquitt may be a solid prospect, but he won't be punting for the Dolphins any time soon. There's always a chance he could be brought back as a camp leg in 2010 if they like what they see, though he'd certainly be the underdog in any battle with Fields and that's still a long way away and a big uncertainty.