ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Marquette King has found a team will allow him to keep it real, seek his revenge and maybe pursue records.
“Denver is a punter’s paradise,” King said after signing a three-year, $7 million deal with the Broncos on Thursday, less than a week after his surprising release from the Oakland Raiders.
King said he doubts his oft-flagged on-field antics is what led new Raiders coach Jon Gruden to release him. He added, however, that “the cool thing about the Broncos is the people that work at the Broncos encourage you to be yourself. Players play a lot better when they can let their hair down and be themselves. It’s cool. They encourage it.”
King said he never had the chance to speak with Gruden before he was jettisoned.
“I just saw him on car commercials and stuff,” King said with a laugh. “I get to see him two times a year.”
And that was certainly a factor in King’s decision to stay in the AFC West.
“I just wanted to find the best place that I thought I would fit,” King said. “I think there is somewhat of a revenge factor in there, too.”
The sixth-year pro who had appeared in all of the Raiders’ games since 2013, was a Pro Bowl alternate last season and a second-team All Pro in 2016. He’s the only punter in NFL history to post at least a 40-yard net average in each of his first five seasons.
Last year, he posted a career-high 42.7-yard net punting average, and he expects to do even better at altitude.
King has averaged a whopping 50 yards a punt in his five games in Denver, where he’ll replace Riley Dixon, who slumped last year after a solid rookie season. In 2016, King averaged 56.5 yards on eight punts in Denver’s mile-high air.
“I’ve always enjoyed punting out here in the altitude just because the ball travels further,” King said. “It’s something I’m going to have to get used to, too. I definitely have to get a feel for my leg when it comes to putting the ball inside the corners and everything.”
He said he plans to continue his celebrations following big punts in Denver, but aims to avoid the 15-yard flags that dogged him in Oakland.
“I’m still going to have fun. I’m still going to dance and still celebrate. I’m going to be me. Nothing is going to stop me from being me,” King said.
“The flags — I got three flags two years ago and one flag last year — it’s in the past. I’m just looking forward to doing my thing and making sure I’m working on my composure and doing the right things to making sure the team is in the best situation possible.”
He knows he has to come up with a new ritual to replace his “Bucking Bronco” dance.
“Now it’s time to find a new celebration because that was one when I was trying to troll y’all,” King said on a conference call with Denver media. “Now I’ve got to find something else. It’s definitely going to be a nice little dance. We’ll figure something out.”
And he realizes he’ll have to pick out a new number, too, because boss John Elway’s No. 7 isn’t going anywhere.
“I’ve got to take him out to a nice steak dinner, but I don’t think that’s going to work. I was thinking about getting him a helicopter or something, a big gift,” King said. “But I don’t think he’s going to give that ‘7’ up. I’ve got to figure out another number.”
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