BRONCOS

With Riley Dixon in, Corliss Waitman is out for Broncos at punter

Mar 21, 2023, 4:06 PM

Corliss Waitman had his ups and downs last year. But in the end, he settled as a mid-tier punter: 20th in gross average and 16th in net average.

That wasn’t enough to compel the Broncos to bring him back once they signed Riley Dixon. So, hours after word broke of Dixon’s return to Denver, the team withdrew its exclusive-rights tender to Waitman, making him a free agent.

That nips the notion of a Dixon-Waitman competition in the bud. Among eligible punters, Dixon finished nine spots higher than Waitman in gross average — with a career-best-48.1-yard pace last year — and three spots better in net average.

The 2022 season was Waitman’s first full season as an NFL punter after a brief stint with the Steelers in 2021. He nudged past Sam Martin to earn the job following a strong training camp, which included frequent blasts that saw hang times near or above 5.00 seconds during practice.

But Waitman struggled with consistency. His precision punting was top-notch in Week 3, helping the Broncos eke out an 11-10 win over the 49ers. He even received an honor from NBC’s Sunday Night Football crew, earning one of the game balls given on the broadcast. During too many other weeks, he couldn’t find a groove, and his hang times generally dropped over the course of the season.

Waitman is also caught up in a flurry of changes on special teams. New coaches — including assistant head coach Mike Westhoff — dot the staff. Some of the Broncos’ recent player acquisitions, including CB Tremon Smith, TE Chris Manhertz, FB Mike Burton and RB Samaje Perine, have significant special-teams experience on their ledgers.

And the Broncos aren’t standing pat. Smith could replace Montrell Washington on returners. And on Tuesday, the Broncos pipped Waitman.

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With Riley Dixon in, Corliss Waitman is out for Broncos at punter