The Saints have locked up punter Thomas Morstead long term, signing a new six-year extension to his rookie contract.
The contract is reportedly worth up to $21.9 million. This deal makes Morstead the second richest punter in the league, behind Oakland P Shane Lechler.
Morstead's punting average has gone up in his three years in the NFL, from 43.6 as a rookie in 2009 to 38.4 in 2010 and 48.3 yards/punt last season. He punted twice as a rookie in Super Bowl XLIV for 42 and 46 yards.
Morstead is also the Saints' designated kickoff placekicker, and starred in 2011, taking advantage of the league moving the kickoff up five yards. Morstead broke the existing NFL record for most touchbacks in a season by November, and set the new mark with 68 touchbacks on the season.
Against Detroit in the wildcard playoffs in January, Morstead didn't punt, but he did kick off seven times. Six went into the end zone, five were touchbacks.
In 2011, Morstead and the Saints' coverage teams allowed only 118 punt return yards, lowest in the NFL among punters with at least 30 punts. His net average of 43.1 yards/punt was second best in the NFL in 2011.
In the 2010 regular season finale, Morstead was the best player on the field for the Mark Brunell-led Saints, who pulled starters against Carolina. In that game, Morstead punted nine times for a staggering 417 yards for an average of 46.3. Seven were downed inside the Panthers' 20, an eighth was returned to the 21 and ended up at the 11 as the result of a penalty.
Morstead was a head-scratching fifth round pick of the Saints out of SMU, though he has certainly justified the selection.
He wrote on Twitter Thursday night, "What a blessing..... #WHODAT" "#WhoDatNation Y'all are stuck with me for the next 7 years, I am humbled, honored and blessed to be here... Thanks for all your love." "This city has been so good to me...."