For starters, Sepulveda doesn't earn that much. He signed a one year, $1.01 million dollar contract before this season started. That's probably the lowest salary for any starter on our team, except maybe Suisham.
Now, focusing in on stats and what they mean, here are the basic ones:
Average Yards per Punt: 45.5 (4th best in the league)
1. Shane Lechler, Oakland - 47
2. Mike Scifres, San Diego - 46.7
3. Brandon Fields, Miami - 46.2
4. Daniel Sepulveda, Pittsburgh - 45.5
Net Average Yards per Punt: 39.1 (tied for 4th best in the league)
1. Shane Lechler, Oakland -
2. Sam Kock, Baltimore -
2. Adam Podlesh, Jacksonville -
4. Brett Kern, Tennessee - 39.1
4. Daniel Sepulveda, Pittsburgh - 39.1
Furthermore, he had no punts blocked and no punts returned for a TD, which is both a testament to his ability and the rest of our ST unit.
Finally, return yards. This stat can be a little tricky to measure and evaluate, but IMO it shows one very important detail that other stats don't:
How well does the punt travel with our ST players.
Basically, a great punt has two components: distance and hangtime. If a punt travels a long distance, that's great, but it's useless if it had no hangtime. The more hangtime a punt has, the more time defenders have to get to the returner. If the defenders start closing in on the returner, a fair catch will be called. This is one area where I felt Sepulveda did a great job, and is shows in the stats:
Among punters with more than 50 punts (real punters, not QB's, K's, or other players who ocasionally punt), Sepulveda ranked 4th with 198 yards in 56 punts.
1. Adam Podlesh, Jacksonville - 123 yards in 57 punts
2. Kevin Huber, Cincinnati - 124 in 71 punts
3. Zoltan Mesko, New England - 179 in 58 punts
4. Daniel Sepulveda, Pittsburgh - 198 in 56 punts
Again, this stat is also a testament to our ST unit, but my theory that Sepulveda does a good job in balancing distance and hangtime is reinforced by the fact that Sepulveda is 4th in the league in fair catches. That is, Sepulveda is the 4th punter that causes most fair catches.
1. Steve Weatherford, New York Jets - 27 in 84 punts
2. Sam Koch, Baltimore - 22 in 81 punts
2. Pat McAfee, Indianapolis - 22 in 65 punts
4. Daniel Sepulveda, Pittsburgh - 21 in 56 punts
Finally, one stat that is also useful to have is touchbacks. Sometimes they are good, sometime they are bad, usually though, they are useful to prevent returns. For example, yesterday's game vs. the Browns. Every time we kicked off we used a squib kick to make sure that Cribbs was less likely to end up with the ball. It was extremely effective. Same thing with touchbacks. Make sure the returner doesn't get the ball.
- Sepulveda is third in the league in touchbacks with 8.
1. Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City - 10
2. Mike Scifres, San Diego - 9
3. Daniel Sepulveda, Pittsburgh - 8
So I ask you, do you really want to let Sepulveda walk? He's (statistically, at least) a top 5 punter in almost all the important categories, AND he's still young (26). Shane Lechler is 34, Mike Scifres is 30, Mat McBriar is 31, etc.
Sepulveda is a pretty darn good punter and I'm very happy we have him on the team. You guys should be happy to have him too. It's a shame he's having trouble with his ACL, but there is no way I would want him to leave without a clear, and better, replacement for him.
Oh, and btw, the stats come from NFL.com's NFL Stats by Player: