Sunday Morning Special Teams – Rounding Up Free Agency For Kickers

Sunday Morning Special Teams – Rounding Up Free Agency For Kickers
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 ‘Sunday Morning Special Teams’ is a weekly column divised by yours truly, Greg Forbes. It’s aims are to provide in-depth analysis of all special teams play, career retrospectives, player interviews and knowledge on the latest in the world of the unit itself. 

Special teams on a Sunday is kinda my thing, but how about we do it on a Thursday too? 

NFL free agency is in full swing and is delivering excitement for us fans during the offseason. On the other hand, free agency for special teamers isn’t all that great. For many, it means relocating to another city, a new team and new surroundings. 

So, who has been plucked off of the free agency block, I hear you ask? 

Robbie Gould – San Francisco 49ers 

The Chicago Bears’ all-time leading scorer in franchise history joined the San Francisco 49ers in 2017, after a brief stint with the New York Giants. In the two years he has spent in California, Gould converted 72 of 75 field goals, whilst he boasted a FG conversion rate of 97.1% in the 2018 campaign. As of now, he remains the second most accurate kicker in NFL history, possessing a 87.7% field goal conversion rate. 

As a result of his continued success, Gould was signed to the franchise tag, which is reportedly valued at $5 million for the season. 

The move is absolutely the right decision for both player and franchise. For the 49ers, they retain the services of one of the league’s most consistent kickers. Moreover, should his production decline over the season, they have the ability to search for a new kicker ahead of the 2020 campaign. As for Gould, he gets a solid salary and remains settled into a city and team that he knows well, and excels within. 

Josh Lambo – Jacksonville Jaguars

A former professional goalkeeper and Texas A&M alumni, Josh Lambo is something of an enigma in the NFL. He first joined the NFL in 2015 as the kicker for the San Diego Chargers. There, he competed for 2 seasons, converting 26 of 32 field goals each year. The Chargers then decided to make the woeful decision of releasing Lambo, in favour of Younghoe Koo. 

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Lambo on October 17, 2017, and got sweet revenge over his former team in his first campaign in Florida, as he nailed an overtime FG to garner a 20-17 victory. Josh Lambo’s fantastic 2018 campaign saw him convert 19 of 21 field goals, making for a 90.5% FG conversion rate. 

The Jaguars then elected to sign Lambo this offseason to a four-year deal worth an estimated $15.5M. 

Will Lutz – New Orleans Saints 

Restricted free agent Wil Lutz decided to commit his future to the franchise who gave him an opportunity when no one else would, as he penned a five-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on March 13, 2019. 

Lutz is coming off the back of his best ever year, having converted 93.3% of his field goals this past season. He also boasted a long FG of 54-yards, whilst he only missed 1 PAT in his 53 total attempts. 

Evidently, the deal is fairly lucrative, and more importantly it keeps Lutz on the roster for years to come. Of course, these guaranteed deals don’t always work in the franchise’s favour, take Chris Boswell’s retraction in form from the 2017 season to that of the 2018 campaign for example. That said, I believe and hope that Bozzy returns to that same form which saw him make the Pro Bowl. 

Jason Myers – Seattle Seahawks 

Yes, you read that correctly. Jason Myers signed a 4-year, $15.5M contract with the Seattle Seahawks. This comes after the New York Jets decided not to re-sign Myers, in what is truly a remarkable decision. 

The reason the move is so bewildering is because Myers just produced his greatest season yet. In the 2018 campaign, he converted 33 of 36 FG’s (91.7%) and 30 of 33 PAT’s (90.9%), all of which contributed to his nomination to the 2018 Pro Bowl. 

Whilst I can understand the Jets’ potential worries surrounding the continuation of Myers’ form, given that he was hit or miss (excuse the pun) in his two and a half-year career as a Jacksonville Jaguars, I simply don’t understand why they wouldn’t at least offer him a one-year deal. For me, there is nothing more powerful than a kicker with confidence, which is exactly the situation Myers finds himself in right now. 

On the other end of the spectrum, Myers gets a lucrative long-term deal, which will keep him in a job for the next few years. I believe his confidence, which as aforementioned is already sky-high, will be boosted even further given that the Seahawks declared their admiration of his talents by offering such a sound deal. 

Adam Vinatieri – Indianapolis Colts 

The GOAT returns. 

For me, and almost everyone, Adam Vinatieri is the greatest kicker to ever grace a football field. He holds multiple NFL records, including boasting the most Super Bowl wins of any kicker, the most points scored, most postseason points scored, most field goals made and most overtime field goals converted. 

The fourth oldest player of all-time is set to return to the league, as he signed a $3.875M, one-year deal with his beloved Colts. 

He is coming off the back of a moderately successful campaign by his standards, having converted 23 of 27 field goals. That said, he demonstrated that he still possesses that same power, as he converted 4 of 6 field goals from 50-yards, with a long of 54. 

I absolutely love this contract. For us fans, it presents one final hurrah for one of the game’s best to ever do it, whilst the Colts retain the services of one of their most reliable talents that they have ever possessed. 

Cairo Santos – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Brazilian-born kicker Cairo Santos will return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season, as he just signed a one-year deal with the team. 

Since arriving in the league in 2014 he kicked for the Kansas City Chiefs for three years, but suffered from injuries in his final season. As a result, the Chiefs waived him from the roster, and he then signed with the Chicago Bears. Unfortunately however, he aggravated said injury once more, concluding his career there having featured in just 2 games. From there, he bounced around the league, featuring minimally for both the New York Jets and Los Angeles Rams, before landing in Tampa Bay last season on 12 November, 2018. 

In his 12 attempts for the Buccs, Santos converted 9 field goals, whilst converting every PAT attempt in his 17 tries. 

I respect this deal because the Buccaneers showed little commitment but enough to retain Santos’ services. Furthermore, if he improves on his record as a kicker and maintains solid production, then they have the opportunity to extend his deal. I will say however, that they should be on the lookout for a kicker in the forthcoming draft as a potential replacement for Santos, who, as evidenced, possesses an extensive list of injuries already in his five-year career. 

Chandler Catanzaro – New York Jets

Sorry Jets fans, your replacement is not an improvement. He is however, a familiar face, having played in New York in 2017 where he converted 25 of 30 field goals. 

Catanzaro is coming off the back of a turbulent campaign, after being released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following on from his 2 missed field goals against the Washington Redskins in a 16-3 loss. He was subsequently picked up by the Carolina Panthers in relief of injured kicker Graham Gano, where he converted 5 of 5 field goals. 

Whilst I am not delighted by this signing, Catanzaro is a very good kicker on his day. He boasts the record for the longest field goal scored in NFL history, when he nailed a 59-yarder in week 7 against the Cleveland Browns to hand his team a 26-23 W for example. That said, consistency has always been a killer for Chandler, as he often lost his job because he couldn’t produce consistently positive results. 

Remaining Free Agents 

There remains several NFL kickers who are yet to be scooped off of the free agency market. Those being: Stephen Gostkowski, Matt Bryant, Dan Bailey, Phil Dawson, Sebastian Janikowski, Cody Parkey, Mike Nugent and Kai Forbath. 

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