ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Sam Martin doesn’t really want to think about it. He doesn’t know all the intricacies of negotiating for a new contract, which is why he has an agent.
But Martin knows he’s entering a contract year. And with Darius Slay's contract extension with the Detroit Lions completed Friday, the franchise can look toward other deals they might be trying to get done.
The next one on the list could be their punter, who has become one of the top players in the league at his position. Ideally, he would love to see something done before the season starts in September.
“Yeah, I think if we can come to an agreement, then yeah,” Martin said. “But I’m not, it’s not something I’m stressing about. I have a year left on my contract and if we can’t agree on something before the season, then I’m still under contract for the year and I’m just going to do the best I can for this season.”
Martin declined to get into specifics about his contract, but a source said the Lions are in negotiations with the punter for a contract extension.
Martin, who was Detroit’s fifth-round pick in 2013, could be in line for a lucrative punting payday as well. Fourteen of the league’s punters will make over $2 million in cash this season, with the top five punters in the league (Marquette King, Dustin Colquitt, Thomas Morstead, Jon Ryan and Britton Colquitt) slated to make more than $3 million.
The 26-year-old had the best net punting numbers of his career last season at 41.95 yards per punt -- fourth in the NFL among regular punters according to ESPN Stats & Information. The only punters better than him were Johnny Hekker, Sam Koch and Chris Jones. Martin's gross punting yards were 45.99 yards per kick. He put 33.8 percent of his punts inside the 20-yard line and had only three of his 80 punts go for touchbacks.
Partly due to Martin and partly due to his coverage team, opponents only averaged 6.12 yards per punt return last season.
Martin said he stuck with his same offseason routine this season with his punting coach in Charlotte but felt he made strong improvements entering his fourth season in the league. So where can he improve?
“My consistency,” Martin said. “I felt pretty good about my consistency last year, but you’re never going to be perfect in the punting world. It’s just, the margin of error is too small so as long as I’m punting, I’m always going to be chasing perfection and I think I worked a lot on that.”
He also worked on improving the hang time on his punts, which would help with the overall net punt yardage the Lions allow.
His goal this season is similar to what it’s been before: Improve and hopefully make the Pro Bowl for the first time.
“That’s always a goal. It’s never a priority,” Martin said. “Personally I would, obviously, everyone wants to go to the Pro Bowl so that’s definitely a goal of mine. But the priority is winning, the priority is doing my best to help this team win.
“Situationally, that might not lead to a Pro Bowl, but if we’re winning, that’s what matters.”