To end our unrestricted portion of the free agency series, we will take a look at the Arizona Cardinals' punter, Dave Zastudil. Before we do that, let's look at the results for Jay Feely. 81% of the voters felt that Feely should receive a new contract from the team due to his experience and overall effectiveness as the team's kicker. In my opinion, I think Feely will end up back with the Cardinals.
Ok, now on to Zastudil. After the team decided to cut Ben Graham because of his lack of hangtime on his punts, they decided to go with Zastudil, who didn't even play in 2010 due to injury. With Zastudil, the Cardinals did lose some qualities that Graham brought to the table, but his hangtime was much improved.
Let's look at some of his punting statistics along with some other factors that may determine whether or not he comes back to the Cards in 2012.
One thing that should be mentioned right away is the target punting that Arizona lost when cutting Graham. He had the ability to down the ball inside the opponent's own 10 yard line in short punting situations, which is not something that we saw a lot of with Zastudil.
Zastudil played in 15 games for the Cardinals in 2011, punting a total of 87 times. His kicks went an average of about 45 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. He did a much better job of flipping field position than Graham did, but only 26 of his punts landed within the opponent's 20 yard line.
At the age of 33, Zastudil will now enter free agency, hoping to lock up another contract with an NFL team. The Cardinals could definitely retain his services, but I am not so sure they should. As many people have noted, the Cards need a punter that can flip the field position completely to give the defense a better chance at giving the offense the ball back in great field position. A guy that can absolutely boom the ball without making mistakes is what the type of player that they need.
So in my opinion, I think they should let Zastudil walk. They can pick up a rookie either in the later rounds of the draft or as an undrafted free agent. Someone that comes to mind is Drew Butler from Georgia, who spent four years in college and not only played as a punter, but also as a holder, which would help whoever the kicker may be. In terms of cost, the rookie would also be a cheaper option.
What do you think? Should the Cardinals keep Dave Zastudil around? Leave your comments below and vote in the poll.