The New York Jets are weak at the kicker position. Here are some potential upgrades that may shake loose after roster cuts.
Sixth-year veteran Sam Ficken and undrafted free agent rookie Chris Naggar are set to do battle for the New York Jets’ kicker job under special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, but that does not mean they are the only two people with a chance to kick field goals for the Jets in Week 1. The possibility exists that the team could target a kicker who is cut by another team following roster cuts late in the preseason.
Ficken has struggled mightily in the NFL, making 72.9% of his field goals (2020 NFL league average: 84.6%) and 87.5% of his extra points (2020 NFL league average: 93.0%). Naggar only kicked for one season in college and missed three extra points at the NCAA’s 20-yard distance. He made 81.0% of his field goals while struggling from long distance, going 0-for-2 from 50+ yards and 5-for-9 (55.5%) from 40+ yards.
One of the two kickers could put a stranglehold on the Jets’ kicking job with an outstanding training camp and preseason, but considering how uninspiring their resumes are, the Jets will likely keep the door open for a late-offseason pickup unless Ficken or Naggar kick the lights out.
Here are all of the teams in the NFL that currently have multiple kickers on their roster, presenting some of the kickers who could become available in free agency or on the waiver wire later in the offseason.
Patriots: Nick Folk vs. Quinn Nordin
Heading into his 15th NFL season, Nick Folk is still going strong at 36 years old. He made a career-high 92.9% of his field goal attempts in 2020, ranking eighth-best in the NFL among qualifiers. However, he did miss three extra points, making just 90.9% of those. The 2021 NFL average extra point percentage was 93.0%, while the league-average field goal percentage was 84.6%.
The Patriots signed undrafted free agent Quinn Nordin out of Michigan to compete with Folk. Nordin had a shaky collegiate career, making only 72.4% of his field goals over four years with the Wolverines and never hitting the 80% mark in a season. He made only 2-of-5 attempts over four games in 2020.
Regardless of Nordin’s college struggles, he could easily swipe the job thanks to his age advantage if he performs comparably to or better than Folk. If Folk shakes free, he would offer a more enticing resume than Ficken or Naggar.
Ravens: Justin Tucker vs. Jake Verity
Justin Tucker is arguably the greatest kicker in NFL history. His career field goal percentage of 90.7% is the best of all time.
Tucker is completely safe in Baltimore with three years left on his deal and no signs of decline in his on-field performance. That means Jake Verity – an undrafted rookie out of East Carolina – is a virtual lock to be released at some point, subjecting him to the waiver wire.
Verity made only 75.5% of his field goals over five years with the Pirates, including just 66.7% in his final season, but he showed NFL-caliber potential in the middle of his career. From 2018-19, Verity made 86.0% of his field goals, including 89.1% of his attempts from under 50 yards out.
Bengals: Austin Seibert vs. Evan McPherson
Florida product Evan McPherson was arguably the best kicker prospect going into the draft. He ended up being the only kicker selected, as the Bengals took him with the 149th overall pick in the fifth round.
McPherson had a great career at Florida in which he made 85.0% of his field goals and missed only one of 150 extra points (keep in mind throughout this piece that NCAA kickers are still kicking extra points from the easy distance of under 20 yards).
Cincinnati’s selection of McPherson was a response to a poor season of placekicking in which they ranked 23rd in field goal percentage (79.4%) off of the combined performance of Randy Bullock and Austin Seibert. The latter remains in southern Ohio to compete with McPherson.
Seibert has made a respectable 81.6% of his career field goal attempts for the Bengals and Browns, but he has limited range. He is 20-for-20 on field goals from under 40 yards out and 11-for-18 (61.1%) on kicks from 40 yards or further. Seibert also has struggled with extra points, missing six out of 44 attempts (86.4% conversion rate).
Browns: Cody Parkey vs. Chase McLaughlin
Chase McLaughlin kicked for the Jets in one game last season, making both of his extra points and attempting no field goals in New York’s season-finale loss to New England. He has made 78.6% of his field goal attempts in his short career, actually doing better on kicks from 50+ yards (80.0%) than on kicks from inside of 50 yards (78.3%). McLaughlin has missed one of his 32 extra point attempts (96.9% conversion rate).
Cody Parkey had a so-so season for the Browns in 2020. He made 86.4% of his field goals, but none of those attempts were from 50+, so his job was fairly easy. Parkey also struggled with extra points as he missed four of his 47 attempts (91.5% conversion rate).
Steelers: Chris Boswell vs. Sam Sloman
Chris Boswell made 95.0% of his field goals in 2020 and has had back-to-back seasons hitting the 90% mark, but he missed four of his 38 extra points (89.5% conversion rate) and battled injuries as he missed one game with a hip injury and two games with a groin injury. He returned following both of those injuries and did not miss any field goals or extra points in post-injury games, though.
Boswell is probably safe in Pittsburgh, which means Sam Sloman will likely shake loose. Sloman is only 23 years old but sputtered in his rookie season with the Rams and Titans, making 76.9% of his field goals and botching three of his 26 extra points (88.5% conversion rate).
Related Article: Ranking the NY Jets’ overlooked special teams players | Analytics
Bears: Cairo Santos vs. Brian Johnson
Cairo Santos is safe in Chicago after signing a three-year contract extension this offseason. Undrafted free agent Brian Johnson will shake free.
Johnson made all 131 of his career extra points at Virginia Tech but only made 76.1% of his field goals.
Lions: Randy Bullock vs. Matthew Wright
Former Jets kicker Randy Bullock comes to Detroit after a good four-year run in Cincinnati that saw him make 85.0% of his field goals and 95.2% of his extra points. Bullock was benched by the Bengals over the last four games of the 2020 season after missing three field goals and one extra point in a three-game span, which seemed like an overreaction considering Bullock made all of his extra points and 90.5% of his field goals over nine games prior to that stretch.
Matthew Wright was an undrafted free agent out of Central Florida in 2019 and got his first regular-season NFL shot for the Steelers this past season, playing three games in relief of Chris Boswell. Wright made all four of his field goals (long of 46 yards) and all seven of his extra points.
Packers: Mason Crosby vs. J.J. Molson
Set to turn 37 years old in September, Mason Crosby should be safe to make it into his 15th regular season as a Packer. He made all 16 of his field goal attempts (including all four from 50+ yards) and 59 out of 63 extra points in 2020. In the playoffs, Crosby went a perfect 4-for-4 both on field goals and on extra points.
Former undrafted free agent J.J. Molson will become available if Crosby retains the job as expected. Molson spent the 2020 season with the Chargers’ practice squad. He was a bad kicker in college at UCLA, making just 68.9% of his field goal attempts. He did miss only one of 152 extra point attempts, though.
Vikings: Greg Joseph vs. Riley Patterson
Greg Joseph last kicked in the NFL for the Titans in 2019. For his career, Joseph has made 85.0% of his field goals but has missed four out of 38 extra points (89.5% conversion rate).
Memphis product Riley Patterson was an undrafted free agent this year. He had a roller-coaster career, setting a career-high with a 92.0% field goal percentage in 2019 but following it up with a career-low of 68.2% in 2020. Patterson finished with a career field goal percentage of 77.1%.
Colts: Rodrigo Blankenship vs. Eddy Pineiro
Rodrigo Blankenship was an undrafted free agent out of Georgia in 2020. He had a solid rookie season for the Colts, making 86.5% of his field goals and 95.6% of his extra points. It seems fairly likely he hangs onto the job.
Eddy Pineiro was the Bears’ response to the Cody Parkey double-doink in the 2018 playoffs. Pineiro had a decent 2019 season as he made 82.1% of his field goals and 93.1% of his extra points. That remains Pineiro’s only NFL action on record, as he missed the 2020 season with a groin injury.
Jaguars: Josh Lambo vs. Aldrick Rosas
Josh Lambo has been a beast for the Jaguars since coming into Jacksonville in 2017, making 95.0% of his field goals (which is actually higher than his 91.9% extra point conversion rate). His 2020 season was limited to four games due to a hip injury, which he re-injured during the year after returning following the initial injury.
Lambo should be good to go in Jacksonville if healthy, but Aldrick Rosas is there for security. Rosas has made 81.4% of his field goals and 92.2% of his extra points over four seasons.
Rosas does have some off-field baggage, though, which could take him off of Joe Douglas’ radar. In June 2020, Rosas was charged with three misdemeanors for a high-speed hit-and-run in California and was sentenced to three years of probation. It led to a four-game suspension that season.
Titans: Tucker McCann vs. Blake Haubeil
The Titans have gone young for their kicker competition. Tucker McCann was an undrafted free agent out of Missouri that the Titans signed last year. Blake Haubeil is a 2021 undrafted free agent out of Ohio State.
McCann made only 72.6% of his attempts over four years at Missouri, and he also missed 11 out of 186 extra points (94.1% conversion rate). Haubeil only attempted 35 extra points at Ohio State, but he made 28 of them (80.0%), and he was also perfect over 146 extra point attempts.
Buccaneers: Ryan Succop vs. Jose Borregales
Ryan Succop had an excellent 2020 season in which he made 90.3% of his field goals in the regular season and proceeded to go 9-for-9 throughout Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl run. He was rewarded with a new three-year, $12 million contract.
Succop is set to run it back with Tom Brady and company, so that means undrafted free agent Jose Borregales will become available barring anything drastic.
Borregales was considered one of the best kicker prospects of the 2021 class, largely being considered the No. 2 prospect behind Evan McPherson. The Miami (FL) product made 79.5% of his career field goals but peaked with a career-high 90.9% performance in 2020, also making all 37 of his extra points in the stellar campaign.
Raiders: Daniel Carlson vs. Dominik Eberle
Daniel Carlson had a breakout third season for the Raiders in 2020, making 94.3% of his field goals and 95.7% of his extra points. He made only 76.6% of his field goals (but a still-impressive 96.7% of his extra points) over his first two NFL seasons. Las Vegas gave Carlson a one-year, $3.4 million contract extension into the 2021 season.
Dominik Eberle signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent out of Utah State in 2020. Eberle has one of the best resumes of any unproven college prospect listed in this article. He made all 167 of his extra points with the Aggies and improved his field goal percentage over the prior year in three consecutive seasons, finishing off with an 87.5% performance in 2019.
Chargers: M. Badgley vs. T. Vizcaino vs. A. Kessman
It seems like the Chargers have dealt with some sort of special teams nonsense in every single year since the beginning of time, so they’re not messing around anymore. Los Angeles has three kickers on the roster right now.
New Jersey native Michael Badgley has kicked for the Chargers in 34 games over the past three seasons. He has gotten worse each year, posting field goal percentages of 93.8%, 81.3%, and 72.7% from 2018-20. Badgley is fine on extra points, though, hitting 95.3% in his career.
Tristan Vizcaino was an undrafted free agent out of Washington in 2018 and is already on his seventh NFL team. Vizcaino made his NFL debut for the 49ers in Week 17 of the 2020 season and got the job done as he made all three field goals (long of 47 yards) and both extra points. It is worth noting his brief connection to Robert Saleh and other former 49ers staff members who are now with the Jets.
Alex Kessman is an undrafted rookie out of Pittsburgh. He made 72.6% of his field goals and 97.1% of his extra points over four years with the Panthers. Kessman is a good distance kicker, making 12-of-18 kicks from 50+ yards and hitting 4-of-5 such kicks in 2020.
Rams: Matt Gay vs. Austin MacGinnis
Matt Gay played seven games for the Rams and kicked nicely as he made all 16 of his extra points and 87.5% of his field goals. It was a massive improvement over his 2019 debut season with the Buccaneers, where he made 77.1% of his field goals and 89.6% of his extra points.
Austin MacGinnis was an undrafted free agent out of Kentucky in 2018. He spent time with the AAF’s Memphis Express (2019) and the XFL’s Dallas Renegades (2020). MacGinnis made 90.5% of his field goal attempts across the two leagues, going 9-for-11 with Memphis and 10-for-10 with Dallas. In 2020, he spent most of the year on the Rams’ practice squad.
Current notable free agents
Here are some notable kickers who remain on the open market:
- Roberto Aguayo, age 27 (71.0% FG in 2016)
- Dan Bailey, age 33 (85.9% career FG, 68.2% 2020 FG)
- Brett Maher, age 31 (74.2% career FG, 66.7% 2019 FG)
- Zane Gonzalez, age 26 (78.0% career FG, 72.7% 2020 FG)
- Stephen Gostkowski, age 37 (86.3% career FG, 69.2% 2020 FG)
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