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The Ravens signed punter Sam Koch to a five-year contract this week, locking up one of the NFL’s best specialists through 2015.
“We believe that we have the best punter and holder in the NFL, and we wanted to make sure he stayed a Raven,” Head Coach John Harbaugh stated. “Sam is a hard worker, a solid person and a great family man. He represents the Ravens and the City of Baltimore very well. I am proud and happy that he will be a big part of where we are taking our team.”
A five-year veteran, Koch was scheduled to become a restricted free agent under the 2010 collective bargaining agreement.
If the NFL and NFL Players’ Association come to a new agreement, Koch would have been expected to be unrestricted, as players with at least four years of service could sign with any team.
“After being with the Ravens for five years, there wasn’t another team I would rather go to,” Koch said. “Being with this team, the camaraderie that we have as players is great. With the coaches, it’s even better.
“I couldn’t be any happier to be here and am excited to have the chance to be here another five years.”
Koch’s contributions went beyond distance.
Koch finished the 2010 campaign with 39 punts inside the 20-yard line, which was second-most in the league and sixth-best all-time.
For his career, Koch owns the Ravens’ record with 149 punts inside the 20, along with franchise single-season marks for net average (39.9) and gross average (45.0), both achieved during the 2008 campaign.
The former sixth-round draft pick out of Nebraska also posted a 43.6-yard average per punt (39.2 gross), while logging only four touchbacks.
Heading into the offseason, Koch said he will focus on his all-around game, not just one aspect.
“It’s an ongoing process as to where I can get better,” said Koch, who lives in Westminster, Md., with his wife, Nikki, and three children. “It’s everything. There’s not a time when I can say, ‘Well, I’m finally there.’ You constantly have to work on your skills and strive to be perfect.”
Koch laughed when asked about his day, which included a trip to the Ravens’ training facility in Owings Mills, Md., where Owner Steve Bisciotti was attending a meeting with coaches and the personnel department.
Since news of his signing broke Tuesday evening, Koch’s phone has been ringing off the hook.
“It’s an exciting time,” said Koch, a first-alternate for the Pro Bowl behind Oakland Raiders punter Shane Lechler. “I went to the facility [in Owings Mills, Md.] to sign the contract and got to talk to some of the guys there – Coach Harbaugh, Jerry Rosburg, Ozzie [Newsome], Pat [Moriarty].
“I need to give a big thanks to Steve, that’s for sure, but now there will be a lot of other times when I can do that.”