ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – Britton Colquitt spent close to an hour with his wife and their 1-year-old son in one of the corporate tents at the Denver Broncos headquarters following practice Monday.
The NFL’s new highest-paid punter swears he wasn’t being a snob. He just didn’t realize he was keeping a throng of reporters waiting for him at the podium.
It’s not every day that punters get this kind of attention – or make this kind of money.
Colquitt became the league’s highest-paid punter when he signed his three-year, $11.7 million extension upon arriving to work Monday.
The deal included a $3 million signing bonus that, when added to this year’s $1.275 million salary, also makes him the NFL’s highest-compensated punter in 2013.
His extension averages $3.9 million a season, besting the $3.75 million average that his older brother, Dustin, is getting with a five-year, $18.75 million deal he signed this spring with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“He was laughing about it and he’s very proud of me and he’s kind of my biggest fan, so it’s nice to have a big brother like that,” Colquitt said. “And we all know he’s the better punter, so I can give him a hard time about that.”
Depending on how you look at it, both brothers can claim they’re the pro punter making the most money.
“Yeah, I think he still does,” Colquitt said. “But somehow they’ve made it look like he doesn’t. He lives in a bigger house, has more kids. He’s still picking up the dinner check.”
Fifteen years ago, Chris Jacke raised eyebrows when he said he wanted to become the league’s first $1 million kicker.
Now a punter is making close to four times that much.
“I’ve already had a few of my friends and people text me saying, `My son’s going to be a punter. I’m sending him to you when he’s 15,'” Colquitt said. “I’ve always told people, though, `Special teams is the way to go. Or golf.'”
His son, Nash, is a lefty, he said, “so I’m sending him to Dustin. So, I don’t even have to worry about that. I’m teaching him to golf and then Dustin can teach him how to punt.”
That would only carry on the family bloodlines.
Colquitt’s father, Craig, won two Super Bowls as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ punter from 1978-84, and his uncle, Jimmy, played for Seattle in 1985 after breaking records at Tennessee, where all four Colquitts went to school.
Dustin and Britton now have given picked-on punters the last laugh.
Along with long snappers and kickers, punters tend to get picked on or shunned because they’re off on the side fields doing their thing while the big linemen are toiling away and the skill players are racing up and down the football fields.
Now, they not only have lighter workdays to envy but big, fat paychecks.
“No, it’s worth it. They make fun of us a lot but then when training camp rolls around they hate us and they’re really jealous of us. They see us hanging out in the locker room and they’re sweating in the meetings,” Colquitt said. “Just a blessing, you know.”
Colquitt considers himself fortunate to play for an organization that puts its money where its mouth is, too.
Coaches always say that special teams are as important as offense or defense, but few teams show it the way Broncos Executive Vice President John Elway has.
Last year, he signed kicker Matt Prater to a four-year, $13 million deal and five months ago he signed special teams ace David Bruton to a three-year, $5.5 million deal. And now he’s taken care of Colquitt.
The Broncos feature one of the most dynamic kicking games in the league with Colquitt, Prater and returner Trindon Holliday, who scored on a kickoff and punt return in Denver’s playoff loss to Baltimore and could come up for a big payday next summer if he has the kind of season everyone’s expecting out of him in 2013.
“Oh yeah, we’re expecting to get him into the end zone a lot this year,” Bruton said.
Colquitt is the franchise leader in career gross (46.1) and net (39.5) punting averages. He ranked third in the NFL last season in net punting with a franchise record 42.1-yard average, second with a 6.2-yard return average and second with 45 punts inside the 20 with only seven touchbacks.
When Dustin signed his big deal this spring, Colquitt said he never thought he’d make that kind of money.
“I felt like he’s put in the time and deserved that and … I never dreamed that I’d be in position to be compensated like that,” Colquitt said. “And again, that’s why I’m just humbled and thankful and just want to show that I deserve it.”
At the end of his eight-minute Q&A, Colquitt apologized for making the media wait.
“I didn’t know,” he said, stepping off the podium. “I’m over there playing with the kid and then I turn around and I’m like, `There’s no way they’re waiting on me.'”
Being a nearly $4 million-a-year punter takes some getting used to, even for a Colquitt.
By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer
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