Every NFL coach’s dream is to need only one roster slot for a punter and placekicker. Sam Irwin-Hill may be that player for the 2017 – 2018 NFL season.
Irwin-Hill is one of eight players from Australia looking for work in the NFL this year. The 26-year-old Irwin-Hill is trying to take the job of punter Chris Jones for the Dallas Cowboys, but in a rare show of versatility, he kicked two field goals and two point-after-touchdown conversions, which may make him the first Aussie to score gridiron points at the NFL level.
Australia had five players on the active rosters of NFL teams last season and it could have as many as eight. Fifty-three players make up an NFL team’s active roster and the final rosters will be announced no later than September 3.
Irwin-Hill’s chances of supplanting Chris Jones are considered scant. Jones is working for a $1.5 million base salary this year, which is considered a bargain in the NFL. He recently signed a four-year extension with the Cowboys, an extension he earned by being one of the most reliable punters in the NFL.
At place kicker, the Cowboys have a strong incumbent in Dan Bailey. He was successful on 27 of 32 three-pointers last season and 30 of 32 the season before that, so realistically for Irwin-Hill, his best opportunity lies in impressing scouts during the pre-season and hoping one of the other 32 teams in the NFL finds themselves in need of a punter or a placekicker if one should go down due to injury.
Irwin-Hill could aspire to the levels of NFL success enjoyed by his Aussie compatriots Jordan Berry and Brad Wing, both punters with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants, respectively, that are considered among the elite at their position.
Irwin-Hill might also find his versatility at being able to handle all of a team’s kicking duties singlehandedly working in his favour at some juncture.