TAMPA — San Francisco free-agent punter Bradley Pinion jumped at the chance to sign with the Bucs, seeing it as an opportunity to get closer to his offseason home in South Carolina and return to a place he is familiar with.
He punted six time for a 43.3-yard average in a 27-9 loss in Tampa last November. Pinion signed a four-year contract with the Bucs on Wednesday.
“Why not Tampa? I love the area," Pinion said at his introductory news conference Thursday. “I actually grew up training down here with a guy named Jay Feely, or Tom Feely, Jay Feely’s dad. I had been in the area numerous times. Loved the weather. Loved the east coast. Obviously, I’m from the Carolinas so coming back to this area was huge for me. It’s only eight hours from where I live in South Carolina in the offseason. Being that I have family here and would be close to family for my wife, that was huge for us. Tampa is a great organization and I’m just excited to be here."
How are you with directional punting?
“Very comfortable with it. I’ve done it my whole career. There’s no such thing as a straight punt in the NFL. You have some of the best returners in the world. There’s no such thing as a straight punt, but everybody is going to try to directional punt when you have guys back there like Kareem Hunt. You’re not going to punt to him."
You knew Adam Humphries as a teammate at Clemson. He signed with the Titans, but do you know anyone else?
“I know Jameis (Winston) pretty well. We were actually drafted the same year and the punter from Florida State was one of my best friends, so I know him through that. Just excited to actually get to know a bunch of guys."
What do you think of punting in Raymond James Stadium?
“I had a great here last year, so I was pumped about it. I love punting here. I love the humidity. I think humidity helps the ball fly further. It just kind of carries it. I love the stadium. Love the weather down here. The wind only helps. I hate punters who say they don’t like kicking in the wind because it only helps if you’re going with it. I’m excited to get down here and get into Raymond James."
How fast will you mesh as a holder for kicks for Cairo Santos?
“I think it’s going to be pretty quick. I think Cairo is a great kicker and the long-snapper we have here, I’ve heard great things about him. So we’re excited to work with him and we’ve already talked about playing some golf together so it will be fun. We’re excited and I think it will click pretty quickly. It’s going to be a good year."
What do you think about the Bucs hiring former NFL place-kicker Chris Boniol as a specialist coach?
“That’s one of the main reasons I came here, honestly. You don’t see that hardly ever in the NFL or in college or anywhere. I think that’s huge. I think it will help the specialists room get to where it needs to be and be a part of this team winning."