Corliss Waitman beats Sam Martin for Broncos punter job

Denver Broncos, Corliss Waitman (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos, Corliss Waitman (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

One of the Denver Broncos’ biggest roster competitions has officially been decided, according to multiple reports. The Broncos are going with young punter Corliss Waitman over veteran Sam Martin in a move that could potentially surprise a lot of people after Martin had a strong season in 2021.

The move was first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Mike Klis of 9News in Denver also confirmed the move, which was largely financially motivated. The Broncos would have kept Sam Martin around if he were clearly the better option, of course, but Waitman has been really impressive in terms of his ability to get a lot of hangtime on the ball, allowing the coverage unit to get down the field and make plays.

The Broncos had $2.25 million in cap savings available by letting Martin go, and they decided to take it. As you can see from the above reports, the team at least approached Martin about a pay reduction but he wouldn’t take it. The net savings from cutting Martin and keeping Waitman is over $1.4 million and that can make a big difference as the roster is built. Despite the fact that there are some decent financial implications here, this isn’t a purely financially motivated move.

Waitman had to go out there and really show something this offseason after the Broncos claimed him on waivers at the end of the 2021 campaign. It was always curious that Martin was the only player among the Broncos specialists that had competition in the 2022 offseason. We could see long snapper Jacob Bobenmoyer replaced, but the Broncos never signed any of the nine snappers they tried out to a deal. That could change over the next couple of weeks depending on how upset Dwayne Stukes — the team’s special teams coordinator — was after the issues Bobenmoyer had in the preseason finale.

For Waitman, this is a tremendous opportunity. He has a booming leg and he’s punting in the mile-high Denver air. Not only that, but he’s also a left-footed punter, which traditionally gives returners some unique issues in catching punts because of the different way the ball spins off of the foot. Teams typically will bring in free agent left-footed punters when facing one to get their returners used to catching punts from a lefty.

Waitman additionally had to prove himself as the holder for Brandon McManus on extra points and field goals, and he did just that. He was the primary holder in the team’s preseason finale and as we now see, that was 100 percent by design.

Between Waitman and new return specialist Montrell Washington, Dwayne Stukes is already making his mark on this Broncos roster.