Greg Zuerlein has emerged victorious in the New York Jets’ kicker competition
It only took two preseason games for the New York Jets to call off their kicker competition. Greg Zuerlein has beaten out Eddy Pineiro and will be the team’s primary kicker to begin the 2022 season.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Jets have released Pineiro. This leaves Zuerlein as the only kicker on the roster, effectively declaring him the winner of this duel.
Jets are releasing veteran kicker Eddy Pineiro, per source. Greg Zeurlein now is the lone Jets’ kicker on their roster.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 23, 2022
Nothing of note happened in the preseason as both kickers were perfect through two games. Each made their lone field goal attempt while Zuerlein went 4-for-4 on extra points and Pineiro went 2-for-2.
However, it appeared that Zuerlein was in the driver’s seat entering the preseason after out-kicking Pineiro in training camp. Pineiro had a few rough practices that put him in a precarious position. It seems that the Jets saw enough through two games to determine that there was nothing Pineiro could do in the final preseason game to make up the ground he had lost on the practice field.
Money is also a factor here. Zuerlein’s one-year, $2 million contract features $1 million in guaranteed money that the Jets would be on the hook for if they cut him. Pineiro was tendered as a restricted free agent and can be released with no cap repercussions.
Zuerlein, nicknamed “Greg the Leg” or “Legatron”, is known for his long-distance power. Since entering the NFL in 2012, he has made 28 field goals from 53+ yards out, ranking as the second-most in the NFL over that span. Over the past five years, Zuerlein has made an NFL-leading 8 field goals from 56+ yards out.
However, as evidenced by his career statistical profile, Zuerlein is actually more reliable (relative to league average) on sub-50-yard kicks than he is on deep kicks. He tends to convert at a slightly above-average rate in all ranges below 50 yards, but his FG% on kicks from 50+ is well below average despite his impressive maximum range.
Specifically, Zuerlein is very poor in the 50-to-52-yard range (career 43% versus NFL average of 68%). On kicks from 53 yards or further, he is much more effective (career 61% versus NFL average of 59%). But that 50-to-52 sweet spot has caused him major problems.
Zuerlein also must prove he can rebound in the extra point department after missing a league-high six extra points for the Cowboys last year. Prior to 2021, Zuerlein tended to convert extra points at an above-average rate, so the Jets will be hoping he can get back to that.
For his career, Zuerlein has made 82.2% of his field goals. Since extra points moved back in 2015, he has made 94.6% of his extra points.
I thought Pinero was pretty consistent last year. I really hope going with the cheaper option doesn’t bite us in the butt like it normally does.