Former Packer punter Josh Bidwell has never had a kick blocked during the regular season
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't stop their free agency spending for the weekend, and they didn't forget a very important need on special teams.
On Saturday, the Bucs signed former Green Bay Packer punter Josh Bidwell, moving quickly to fill a hole at that position. Tom Tupa, the Bucs punter of the past two years, signed with Washington on. As is team policy, terms of Bidwell's contract were not disclosed.
Bidwell was the Packers' punter for the last four seasons after missing his 1999 rookie campaign on the non-football injury list. He has punted 308 times for 12,659 yards during the regular season, averaging 41.1 yards per kick. He has fared well in two important punting categories, net average (35.5) and kicks-inside-the-20 versus touchbacks (85/28).
Bidwell's numbers look better when one considers that he has played half of his games in Lambeau Field and its often frigid and windy conditions.
"We are looking forward to having Josh on our team," said Head Coach Jon Gruden. "He has displayed capable punting in adverse conditions."
In 2003, Bidwell punted 69 times for 2,875 yards (41.7 avg.) with a long of 60. He also had 16 punts downed inside the 20-yard line versus just seven touchbacks. His top season came in 2001, in which he punted 82 times and compiled a gross average of 42.5 yards per kick and a net average of 36.5 yards per kick. That net average in 2001 was the second-best mark in Packer history.
At 6-3, 220 pounds, Bidwell is one of the league's more physically imposing kickers. He also excels at getting the ball away – he has never had a regular-season kick blocked in his NFL career, setting a Packer record in the process for consecutive punts without being blocked (308). And though he did not serve as the Packers' holder during his four years there, he was accomplished at the task as a collegian.
After a standout collegiate career at Oregon, Bidwell was the first punter drafted in 1999, going to the Packers in the fourth round (133rd overall). He served as the Ducks' punter for all four of his seasons in Eugene, taking over the job in his first game as a redshirt freshman after the incumbent sustained a career-ending injury. An excellent athlete, at the time, he was trying to get playing time as a wide receiver. Bidwell ended up punting 229 times for 9,350 yards in college, averaging 40.8 yards gross and an outstanding 38.1 net.
Bidwell hails from Roseburg, Oregon. As a prep, he punted, handled placekicks, was an option quarterback and played safety.
The Buccaneers have signed or re-signed nine players since the NFL's 2004 free agency period began on March 3. In addition to bringing back one of their own free agents, tight end Rickey Dudley, the Bucs have signed Bidwell, tight end Dave Moore, fullback Greg Comella, linebackers Keith Burns and Jeff Gooch and offensive linemen Derrick Deese, Matt O'Dwyer and Matt Stinchcomb.