After another excellent season in 2021, Detroit Lions punter Jack Fox has officially signed his exclusive rights free agent tender for the 2022 season.
Jack Fox has been quite a find for the Detroit Lions. He earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2020, his first season with the team, as he set franchise records with a 49.1 yard average per punt (third in the league) and a 44.8 net average (second in the league).
In 2021, Fox upped his average to 49.2 yards per punt (second in the league), though his net average dropped to 42.3 yards (sixth in the league). He also completed two of three passes on fake punts last season.
The Lions secured control of Fox’s rights for 2022 by tendering him an offer as an exclusive rights free agent earlier in the offseason.
On Monday, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Fox officially signed his exclusive rights free agent tender. The one-year deal will pay him $895,000 for the 2022 season.
Jack Fox is in line for a long-term deal from the Lions
With his report, Birkett passed along an informed opinion that Fox signing the tender could be a pre-cursor to a bigger long-term deal. Perhaps that explains the delay in signing the tender until the week before the offseason program starts. Contract negotiations may be ongoing.
Without a new deal, Fox would become a restricted free agent in 2023.
The current highest-paid punter in the NFL is Jake Bailey of the New England Patriots, who is slated to make $3.986 million for the 2022 season. Last season, he finished tied for eighth in raw punting average (47.3 yards) and just outside the top-20 in net average (39.6 yards). In 2020, Bailey led the league in net average (45.6 yards per punt) and finished fourth in raw average per punt (48.7 yards).
So side by side the last two seasons, Fox looks good up against Bailey.
It’s unlikely Fox reaches $4 million a year in a multi-year deal with the Lions. But looking solely at 2023 salary rankings among punters, under current contracts via Spotrac, it would “only” take $3 million in cash outlay to make Fox the highest-paid punter in the league.