Kicking woes have been plaguing the NFL this preseason, but for the first time since the days of Martin Grammatica, the Buccaneers aren’t among the teams trying to figure out what’s wrong with the kicking game, and that’s in part to the drafting of Matt Gay in the 5th round of this year’s NFL draft. While Gay and Santos have been battling it out this preseason for who can prove to be the most consistent kicker and win the roster spot, numerous teams around the league are simply searching for a kicker than can come close to making a successful kick.
The Atlanta Falcons released long-time kicker Matt Bryant, who oddly enough, still remains unsigned as of Wednesday evening, and it’s still seen by most Falcon fans as a very puzzling move. To replace him, the Falcons have decided to stick with kicker Giorgio Tavecchio who has been simply abysmal this preseason to the point the Falcons had to call up Blair Walsh who hasn’t kicked in an NFL game since 2017. Needless to say, it hasn’t gone the way they had hoped, as Walsh went 5 for 9 at practice and the misses weren’t anywhere near the uprights.
As much as Buc fans may enjoy watching a fellow NFC South team struggle with kicking, it doesn’t stop there. The Vikings have worked out 4 different kickers and none of them have been able to secure the starting job. Dan Bailey who was the Vikings kicker last season may wind up securing the starting spot simply by not being on the field as the other candidates kick their way out of a roster spot.
The Cleveland Browns, the one team that many people are calling the best team in the league at least on paper, have found themselves also struggling to find a reliable kicker. They weren’t exactly filled with confidence after last season, and used their 5th round pick (same round as the Buccaneers took Gay) and drafted rookie Austin Seibert. That hasn’t exactly gone as well as the Gay pick, however, as Seibert and Greg Joseph have both been shanking kicks left and right.
If you thought you’d seen the worst of them, then you haven’t been watching the dumpster fire that is the New York Jets kicking situation. The Jets had a very good kicker last season in Jason Meyers, but signing Le’ Veon Bell proved to be a little too costly and they weren’t able to afford Jason Meyers who headed West and signed with the Seahawks. Someone in the Jets front office obviously didn’t pay attention to the issues the Buccaneers have had when it came to kicking as they somehow thought it would be a brilliant and cost-effective move to sign Chandler Catanzaro, or as he’s known around Tampa, Chandler Can’tkickanzaro. Catanzaro performed so badly in the preseason, that he decided to simply retire from football. This leaves the Jets with Taylor Bertolet who hasn’t been much better than Catanzaro was, which if you haven’t been paying attention, isn’t a good thing.
With this many teams having this many issues with kicking, the problem becomes that there simply isn’t a long line of great kickers available to be signed. Cody Parkey is still available, but the Bears will tell you to steer clear of him if at all possible, and Matt Bryant is still available, but why he hasn’t been signed is something I’m not quite understanding. Phil Dawson, Sebastian Janikowski, and Mike Nugent all join Catanzaro in the retirement circle, and Forbath, McCrane, and Rose really don’t instill confidence no matter which way you look at them.
Perhaps it’s time for one of the above-mentioned teams to give Carli Lloyd a call because let’s face it, she can’t do any worse than Catanzaro, and for a team that has tried out four different kickers, perhaps a fresh new face is the answer to their problems. They won’t know unless they call her up, yes, I said her, as Carli is looking to become the first female NFL kicker, and if she can do the job, then she might just find her name in the record books before this season is over. The only good thing is that for the first time in a long time, it’s not the Buccaneers who will have to consider calling in a new kicker. Whether the curse has been lifted, or simply shifted Northwest to Atlanta, it’s nice going into a season without having to worry about how many games we’ll lose due to a kicker who is only consistent when it comes to missing.