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The San Diego Chargers and Punter Mike Scifres came to terms on Wednesday on a five-year contract extension that will keep him a Charger through 2015. Worth just about $19 million, his new contract gives him $10 million in guaranteed money and secures his job as one of the NFL’s top-tier punters for years to come.
“For me, it’s knowing that I’m going to be here,” Scifres told the Associated Press. “I didn’t get to that free agent period, my contract didn’t run out. And that’s the important thing for us, to keep this team together. This team is capable of so much.
Look at this locker room. It has unbelievable things written all over it and I’m just happy to be a part of it still and for the next five years… This is the place I started and this is the place I want to finish, and now it’s possible.” Scifres, San Diego’s fifth-round pick in the 2003 draft, has been one of the NFL’s deadliest punters, being selected as a Pro Bowl alternate in six of his eight years in the League.
Averaging a team-record 46.7 yards per punt last season, Scifres’ sensational play has always been undermined by the abysmal performance of the San Diego Special Teams, specifically the blockers. His line allowed four punts to be blocked and one to be deflected, effectively decreasing his net average to 30.8 yards.
However, desperate measures were taken to prevent such poor play from happening again. After missing the Playoffs last year, the Chargers fired Special Teams coach Steve Crosby and hired Rich Bisaccia as the replacement. “It’s a new season, a new group of guys and everybody’s upbeat and can’t wait,” Scifres said.
“Coach Bisaccia came in here and everybody’s bought in to what he’s trying to do. In the preseason we showed that we have a bunch of guys that are dedicated to making our special teams better, and we get a chance to start Sunday.” The Special Teams situation looked no different in the season opener versus the Minnesota Vikings, as Percy Harvin took a kick return the full distance for a touchdown.
And to make matters worse, the Chargers’ reliable kicker, Nate Kaeding, went down with an injury, but Scifres, once again, proved his worth by stepping in and splitting the uprights with a 40-yard field goal. San Diego went on to earn a victory in Week 1; 24-17. With their high-power offense and stingy defense, the San Diego Chargers have high expectations for the 2011-2012 season, and with Punter Mike Scifres’ job being secured, they will remain one of the NFL’s most well-rounded teams for years to come.