The NY Jets cut kicker Sam Ficken and signed Matt Ammendola to replace him.
NY Jets, Sam Ficken, Getty Images

Sam Ficken’s Jets tenure comes to an end

Sam Ficken‘s rocky tenure with the New York Jets has come to an abrupt conclusion. After competing against undrafted rookie Chris Naggar throughout the offseason and into the first few practices of training camp, Ficken has been released without even getting a chance to kick in the preseason.

Ficken’s release comes mere hours after a poor training camp practice. He missed two out of his four field goal attempts on Friday, misfiring from 53 and 55 yards.

The Jets added Ficken in Week 2 of the 2019 season after Kaare Vedvik’s brutal season-opener against the Bills. Ficken kicked in each of the team’s next 15 games that season and kicked in nine games throughout the 2020 season, missing six games with a right groin injury and being waived before the team’s final game of the year. He signed a reserve/future contract after the season.

Ficken played poorly throughout his Jets tenure. From 2019-20, he ranked 30th out of 34 qualified kickers in field goal percentage (76.2%) and dead last in extra point percentage (85.4%).

Matt Ammendola arrives

The Jets signed Matt Ammendola to replace Ficken as Naggar’s competitor.

Ammendola went undrafted out of Oklahoma State in 2020. He did not land with a team until he joined the Panthers in March 2021. Carolina released Ammendola in May.

After redshirting his freshman season, Ammendola kicked in 52 games throughout four seasons with Oklahoma State. He was a kickoff specialist as a redshirt freshman and became the team’s full-time kicker as a redshirt sophomore in 2017.

Ammendola had a shaky collegiate career. He missed four of his 183 extra point attempts (97.8% conversion rate) from the NCAA’s 20-yard distance and converted on only 60 of his 78 field goal attempts (76.9%). Ammendola failed to crack the 80.0%-mark in any of his three seasons as the primary kicker.

Making Ammendola’s field goal percentage even more concerning is the fact that he was rarely ever asked to kick from deep. Just three of his 78 attempts were from 50+ yards (two of three converted). He was given a fairly easy workload as 50 of his 78 attempts were from under 40 yards. That’s 64.8% of his attempts, well above the 2020 NFL average of 50.8%.

Ammendola struggled mightily from 40-49 yards, making 60.0% of his attempts in that range (the 2020 NFL average was 80.9%). He also botched way too many freebies, missing four field goals from under 30 yards as he converted just 87.5% of his attempts in that range (the 2020 NFL average was 96.3%).

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On the positive side, Ammendola has a solid track record on kickoffs. His 195 career kickoffs produced an average starting field position of the 24.2-yard line for the opponent – the 2020 NFL average in this category was the 25.8-yard line. However, Ammendola only handled kickoff duties over his first two seasons, ceding the role to kickoff specialist Jake McClure in 2018.

Ammendola made five tackles in kickoff coverage, but he was also credited with three missed tackles.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at] - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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Braden Bethwaite
Braden Bethwaite
2 years ago

Mmmmm, I wonder if Tampa Bay will cut Ryan Succop or Jose Borregales? Then we could get the one they cut! 😀

Braden Bethwaite
Braden Bethwaite
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

Nice 1, that sounds good! Sorry how does the waiver wire work? Do we get to pick from other teams practise squads?

Braden Bethwaite
Braden Bethwaite
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

Hey thanks Michael that’s really cool to know. I thought it would come down to money offered… Once a player is picked up do they get a set amount of money or is there further negotiation? I suppose a cut player would be hoping to picked up by anyone at that stage…