The saga of Brad Maynard may linger a while in Chicago. The Bears' long-tenured punter was unceremoniously released this week after 10 years of unwavering service to the team.
The 37-year-old had a rough season in 2010. He entered the campaign only a few months removed from hip surgery, which affected his ability to kick the ball for distance. As such, Maynard finished the season dead last in the NFL in average yards per punt. Yet booming the ball has never been his game, as he's always been known as a pure directional kicker. Only twice the past 10 years has he finished outside the Top 11 in the NFL in punts inside the 20, and has led the league in that category three times over that span.
So, when the team announced he would not be returning to the roster in 2011, many within the organization were surprised.
"It's a sad day. It really is," said kicker Robbie Gould. "Brad has done a lot. He's done a lot for me personally; he's done a lot for the organization."
P Brad Maynard
Yet Gould also made an additional comment, one that belies his true feelings about the situation.
"He's helped Dave Toub's career tremendously," Gould said.
Therein lies the reason, according to Maynard, as to why he was not offered a contract with the team going forward. Apparently, Maynard and special teams coordinator Dave Toub, had a bit of a falling out beginning in 2009.
"[Toub] always used to let me call the direction of every kick," Maynard told the "Waddle and Silvy" show on ESPN 1000. "I'd come up to him on the sidelines and say, 'Hey, let's go left here.' And he would just relay the message to all the guys standing around. Late in the '09 season I ran up there and said, 'Let's go left,' and it was 'No, I'm calling it from now on, we're going right.' It just kind of took me aback a little bit.
"I talked to [long snapper] Patrick [Mannelly] and [kicker] Robbie [Gould] about this from that point on over the next couple years and there were times when I literally would say left and he would say right and I would say I can't go right. The wind is blowing right to left, we need to go left. If I hit it right down the middle it's going to carry down the left sideline, and he wouldn't let me do it."
What's done is done though. Both sides will have to move on without each other. To that end, the Bears have signed former Jacksonville Jaguars punter Adam Podlesh to a five-year deal. His agent told the Florida-Times Union that the deal gives him the average salary of the Top 5 punters in the league.
With Podlesh, the club is hoping to get a player who can not only punt directionally, but who also has a big enough leg to carry the ball down the middle of the field. In 2010, he ranked 13th in the NFL with a 43.8 average, while also dropping 28 punts – four more than Maynard – inside the 20.
The five-year veteran was offered a contract by Jacksonville to stay with the team, but Chicago apparently outbid them for his services. The Bears did sign punter Richmond McGee this offseason but it looks like, barring injury, he'll be back on the practice squad in 2011.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.