On most NFL teams, the punter and kicker are treated like second-class citizens, and it’s probably not too far off the mark to suggest that many NFL fans wouldn’t be able to name the punter for their team. Not so in Washington, where left-footed punter Tress Way has been plying his particular trade since joining the team in 2014.
In the ‘14 offseason and preseason, the Redskins brought two place kickers (Kai Forbath and Zach Hocker) to camp; they also brought two punters to compete for one roster spot — Blake Clingan and Robert Malone. The competitions to see which players would end up as the team’s kicker and punter were among the more entertaining discussions of the pre-season.
The answer to the punter question ended up being “none of the above”.
Tress Way was in camp with the Chicago Bears, where he had also tried to catch on in 2013. Interestingly, he seemed to be the best punter for the Bears in the preseason, but Chicago had used a 6th round pick to draft Pat O’Donnell in the ‘14 draft and were, therefore, unlikely to release him. They waived Tress Way instead, and Washington, who had been unimpressed with both Clingan and Malone, release both of them and claimed Way off of waivers.
The rest, as they say, is history. The story has a happy ending for the Bears; O’Donnell is still their punter. Washington has been thrilled with Way’s performance over the years. Fans often refer to him as the team’s MVP due to his ability to create favorable field position when offensive drives stall. He was given a 5-year contract extension in 2016 and another 4-year extension this off-season. Per OverTheCap, the 30-year old is currently the third-highest paid punter in the league and will not be a free agent until 2025.
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Though a lot has changed since his high school days, @Tress_Way's still a kid at heart with the same overflowing passion for the game @WashingtonNFL pic.twitter.com/TmRe4Tt5DZ— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) December 10, 2020