Riders’ punter Jon Ryan opts out of CFL contract to pursue NFL opportunities

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Local boy and fan favourite punter Jon Ryan has chosen to opt out of his contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and take a look at an NFL return.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport broke the news on Twitter, along with a list of previously known opt outs like fellow Riders Dakoda Shepley and Deon Lacey.

Ryan signed a one-year contract extension to stay with his hometown Riders, but was set to become a free agent in February 2021. He will use the cancelled 2020 CFL season to test the waters of an NFL return.

Ryan punted 107 times for 3,783 yards — 48.8-yard average — with a long of 77 yards while playing all 18 regular season games for Saskatchewan. He was named a West Division all-star for his efforts. It was the 38-year-old’s first season with his hometown team.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers selected Ryan in the third round, 24th overall, of the 2004 CFL draft. Ryan handled the punting duties for two seasons, leading the CFL with a 50.6-yard average in 2005.

NFL teams took notice of Ryan’s strong leg and Green Bay signed him to a contract. Ryan spent two seasons with the Packers. After that, Ryan moved on to Seattle for 10 seasons, including a Super Bowl championship in 2014 — the first person from Saskatchewan to win an NFL title.

During training camp in 2018, Ryan was released by Seattle. The Buffalo Bills signed Ryan but let him go less than two weeks later and he didn’t play the rest of that season. Ryan has punted 914 times in the NFL for 40,895 yards and a 44.7-yard average – with 311 punts inside the 20-yard line.

Should Ryan want to return to the CFL, it will be as a free agent. He is the fourth Rider to take advantage of the CFLPA’s opt out provision and the second Saskatchewan specialist, with kicker Brett Lauther also in search of an NFL shot.