That seems a bit strange, since King said he never met new Raiders coach Jon Gruden.
“I just saw him on car commercials and stuff,” King, who signed with the Raiders’ AFC West rival Denver Broncos on Thursday, said in a conference call according to the Broncos’ transcript.
King being cut suddenly, about two weeks into free agency, was strange. He’s one of the best punters in football. He was third last season in net yards per punt among qualifiers. He’s also well known for on-field celebrations, and sometimes gets too exuberant and has picked up a few unsportsmanlike conduct penalties the past couple seasons. Bill Williamson of RaidersSnakePit.com and subsequent reports said King was cut due to a personality issue with Gruden. That seems like an odd call by Gruden considering King said they never met.
It’s not that Gruden couldn’t have been put off by King’s celebrations from afar, but it also shouldn’t take him two weeks into free agency to come to that conclusion, if that was the case. The same can be said for cutting King due to a salary issue. It’s not like King’s salary was a secret before late March. The whole situation was tough to figure out.
King said on the conference call that he did not believe his on-field celebrations had anything to do with his Raiders release. But he did say he liked the idea of playing for the Broncos because he can express himself on the field.
“The cool thing about the Broncos is the people that work at the Broncos encourage you to be yourself. That is real cool,” King said. “Players play a lot better when they can let their hair down and be themselves. It’s cool. They encourage it. But no, I don’t think that’s what the reason [for his Raiders release] was. Everybody has their own way of doing things. Maybe that is how they felt they wanted to do things. More power to them.”
A punter changing teams, even to a division rival, isn’t that big of a deal. It won’t determine who wins the division title or anything. But it was an odd move in a curious Raiders offseason, and King landing in Denver just adds a little more juice to the situation.
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