The Ottawa red blacks 7 ounce they have re-signed Richie Leone to a one year deal for the 2024 season. Leone is coming off of another solid season in which he notched his highest average yards per punt in a three year span despite more punts than the previous two seasons.
Getting Better With Time?
Aging like a fine wine, Leone appears to have gotten better this season given that only twice in his career has he managed a better average. Logging a 47.6 yard average in 2023, he was just 1.7 yards away from his career high that came as a first year player with BC.
The Redblacks special teams unit gave up 1,168 yards in returns on the season meaning his net average was just over 37 yards per punt. Although I’m not sure how much blame Leone deserves for that. Typically, hang-time and directional kicking hasn’t been an issue for the veteran punter.
Why Only One Year?
It strike me as somewhat odd that Ottawa and Leone don’t just work on a multi-year deal. Leone has spent the bulk of his career in Ottawa, and it appears he enjoys it there if we take his quote from the press release at face value: “Punting footballs at TD Place is my absolute favorite thing to do and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue doing it with the REDBLACKS,” said Leone. “I love this city and this organization and I’m counting down the days until we’re back on the field. Until then, see you on the canal!”-Redblacks Press Release
Leone has gotten NFL interest as recently 2020 from the Cardinals, a place he has signed multiple times. Is Leone trying to keep the door open for an NFL return? It certainly would be hard to blame him for thinking he belongs there. Leone’s average per punt in 2023 would place him 16th in the NFL right now.
That’s not even considering the fact that Leone punted 117 times, of the men in the NFL who has a higher yards per punt average, only one; Thomas Morstead is on pace for even 100 punts. It’s certainly fair to wonder how Leone would fair punting less than 100 times in a season, the only time it’s happened he averaged 49.3 yards per punt and that would have placed him 8th, just ahead of Morstead.
NFL Talent in a CFL Contract
While the Redblacks had many issues in 2023, and I expect 2024 to amount to a very large scale overhaul, one player that has played up to expectations at every turn is Leone. He was certainly not on my list of players to replace.
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