LA Rams release punter Johnny Hekker after memorable decade

FILE - Los Angeles Rams' Johnny Hekker punts during the first half of the team's NFL <a class=football game against the New York Jets on December 20, 2020, in Inglewood, California. The Rams released Hekker after 10 seasons. The Super Bowl champion Rams dropped their longest-serving player on Wednesday night, March 16, in a move that creates just over $2 million in salary caps. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)” title=”FILE – Los Angeles Rams’ Johnny Hekker punts during the first half of the team’s NFL football game against the New York Jets on December 20, 2020, in Inglewood, California. The Rams released Hekker after 10 seasons. The Super Bowl champion Rams dropped their longest-serving player on Wednesday night, March 16, in a move that creates just over $2 million in salary caps. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)” loading=”lazy”/>

FILE – Los Angeles Rams’ Johnny Hekker punts during the first half of the team’s NFL football game against the New York Jets on December 20, 2020, in Inglewood, California. The Rams released Hekker after 10 seasons. The Super Bowl champion Rams dropped their longest-serving player on Wednesday night, March 16, in a move that creates just over $2 million in salary caps. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)

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The Los Angeles Rams have released punter Johnny Hekker after 10 seasons.

The Super Bowl champion Rams dropped their longest-serving player on Wednesday night in a move that creates just over $2 million in salary caps.

Hekker has spent his entire career with the Rams since signing to St. Louis as an undrafted free agent from Oregon State in 2012. He became an All-Pro selection four times and arguably the the NFL’s leading punter during the 2010s, but his average dipped to a career-low 44.2 yards per punt last season.

In addition to his punting prowess and steady hands as the Rams’ holder for place kicks, Hekker was a team leader, a popular figure among fans, and even a serious threat to throw the ball around. on rigged games. The former high school quarterback is 14 of 23 for 186 yards and one touchdown as a passer in his career, despite throwing just one pass the past two seasons.

Hekker is among several significant personnel losses this week for the champions, who are pressed against the ceiling as usual.

Along with the retirement of left tackle Andrew Whitworth, Los Angeles lost rusher Von Miller to Buffalo, defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day to the Chargers and starting cornerback Darious Williams to Jacksonville this week. Starting right guard Austin Corbett is expected to sign with Carolina soon, while backup linebacker Ogbo Okoronkwo has joined Houston and tight end Johnny Mundt is heading to Minnesota.

The Rams managed to retain offensive linemen Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen, two likely starters next season. Los Angeles has yet to sign an outside free agent or re-sign wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Hekker was one of three former St. Louis Rams remaining on Los Angeles’ roster for its Super Bowl victory last month. That leaves superstar DT Aaron Donald and right tackle Rob Havenstein.

Hekker admitted he suspected he would be cut during training camp last summer, but he beat Corey Bojorquez for the job. Bojorquez signed with the Packers and has had a good season, while the Rams need to find another punter this summer.

During Hekker’s departure, the Rams will likely keep kicker Matt Gay as a restricted free agent with an original bid. Gay was a Pro Bowl selection last season after joining Los Angeles in 2020.

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