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Broncos bring back former punter on 2-year deal

Denver's new special teams coaches Westhoff and Kotwica apparently want a more experienced punter than Corliss Waitman.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Corliss Waitman lost the coach who believed in him most, the left-footed punter's job with the Denver Broncos became vulnerable.

The Broncos brought back punter Riley Dixon on a two-year contract, a source confirmed to 9NEWS, a transaction that leaves Waitman's days numbered with the team. (Update: Waitman's days with the Broncos didn't even number one. His exclusive rights tender of $940,000 was withdrawn by the Broncos as Dixon signed.)

Dixon was a highly touted seventh-round draft pick out of Syracuse by the Broncos in 2016. (Punters and kickers are rarely drafted.) He was the Broncos punter and holder for kicker Brandon McManus for two seasons, but then was traded to the New York Giants, where he had a nice four-year run. 

Dixon punted last season for the Los Angeles Rams where he reunited with special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis -- who was with the Broncos in 2016 and influenced Dixon's draft selection.

Dixon averaged a career-best 48.4 yards per punt last year while Rams' kicker Matt Gay had a terrific year, making 28 of 30 field goals including 7 of 9 from 50 yards-plus. And during his two seasons with DeCamilis, Dixon was 3 of 3 passing for 34 yards for three first downs. So he's got a good leg, good hands and a good arm.

Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Denver Broncos punter Riley Dixon punts from the end zone during an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Denver.

Dwayne Stukes, the Broncos' special teams coordinator last season, chose the inexperienced, high-potential Waitman over the experienced Sam Martin last year -- a surprise decision for a team that had postseason aspirations.

Stukes was fired by interim head coach Jerry Rosburg with two games remaining in the regular season last year and new Broncos' head coach Sean Payton hired Mike Westhoff and Ben Kotwica to head special teams in 2023. Chris Banjo, a 10-year player fresh off the playing field, was also hired as a Broncos' special teams assistant.

Credit: AP Photo/Darron Cummings
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus (8) and Riley Dixon (9) celebrate a field goal against the Indianapolis Colts during the second half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017.

Punting for the worst offense in the NFL last season, Waitman led the league with 96 punt attempts this past season and while he was sensational in a week 3, 11-10 win against San Francisco -- punting 10 times for a 47.6-yard average to capture the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award -- he became inconsistent on placement and height.

The Broncos exercised their exclusive rights free agent option on Waitman last week but his $940,000 salary is not guaranteed -- as he quickly found out Tuesday when his contract was terminated.



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