A Way to Save an NFL Roster Spot?


Dec 18, 2011; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Jets long snapper Tanner Purdum (46) prior to playing the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Jets 45-19. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is a league of specialty players. Among receivers teams want a mix of possession guys, returners, red zone, or speedsters. In linebackers teams are always looking for that balance of coverage linebackers, run stuffers, and pass rush specialists. In many ways the NFL is the exact opposite of the NBA, where teams are always looking for players that can do multiple things, or play several different positions on the floor. With 22 starting spots on offense and defense, and only 47 active players every week, what positions could the NFL take a page out of the NBA’s notebook?

First and foremost is long snapper. Out of boredom I averaged the height and weight of all the long snappers in the league going through the depth charts of all 32 teams. I got an average weight of 246.5 pounds, and a height of 6’3 ½. To me this seems like a tight end. This is where the dilemma lies. Are most long snappers converted tight ends, or undersized linemen? Can they do anything other than snap?

Is there a reason to have a roster spot just for a snapper as his primary job? Since injuries are always happening, roster spots are at a premium, and game day active player spots are at an even higher premium why can’t the league do away with this position? When I say do away with, I don’t mean eliminate, but rather combine.

The Jets current snapper is Tanner Purdum who took over for James Dearth who was thought of as a great long snapper until he requested one million annually in salary. He was quickly replaced, and Purdum has done a great job the past couple of seasons. The point here is Jets fans, if I didn’t say James Dearth’s name, how many hard-core fans would even remember he was the last long snapper the Jets had? Even though he was tops in the league and pro bowl worthy even, his position just doesn’t merit the attention.

The Jets currently have two rookies sitting on the active roster. One is Oday Oboushi, who was drafted in the 5th round as a tackle, and the latter is William Campbell ,who has been kept on the active roster as a defense to offensive lineman project. Campbell is the guy I am most interested in. Since he is a project player, but the team elected not to cut and put him on the practice squad, I assume that he has some talent that they are afraid would get away. Isn’t it possible to train a lineman that is actually already on the active roster, or tight end for that matter to be a long snapper and not waste this position on a specialist? Point is, can a team get more value out of this position other than a few plays a game?

A field goal snap is 7 yards deep, and a punt snap is 15 yards deep. While I am in no way saying this is an easy thing, is it possible to train a lineman or tight end that can be useful on offense in doing these two things, and save that one roster spot for an additional player? Teams cut corners by having two quarterbacks on the roster (the Jets currently have four, not including Sanchez). Maybe this is the place to add a little bit of cushion to the roster next year. Special teams specialists should be a thing of the past.