Somewhere along his 13-year career with the New England Patriots, kicker Stephen Gostkowski got a bad rap.
Gostkowski is the third-most accurate field goal kicker in the history of the NFL, only trailing Justin Tucker and Robbie Gould. Though he hasn’t had the opportunity of as many clutch moments, Gostkowski has been as good as his predecessor Adam Vinatieri, as blasphemous as that sounds, during his Patriots career.
But because Gostkowski misses some kicks during the postseason — nine, to be exact — some Patriots fans would prefer him gone.
Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. Just ask the Chicago Bears.
Gostkowski is a free agent this offseason, and the Patriots elected not to franchise him.
2018 STATS: 27-of-32 on field goals, 49-of-50 on extra points
Three of Gostkowski’s missed field goals came from 50-plus yards out. All five of his misses came from 40-plus yards out. Gostkowski’s 84.4-percent field goal rate matched his total from 2016. In 2016, however, he missed two field goals from 30-to-39 yards.
POTENTIAL COMPETITION: Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns
PROJECTED DEAL: four years, $18 million
Gostkowski’s last contract was for four years, $17.2 million. At $4.5 million per year, Gostkowski would be the NFL’s second-highest paid kicker behind Robbie Gould, who was franchised by the San Francisco 49ers.
PRIORITY TO RE-SIGN: high
If the Patriots don’t re-sign Gostkowski, then they likely would have to draft a kicker. That’s a risky proposition. The Patriots only have had three kickers since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000: Vinatieri, Gostkowski and Shayne Graham for eight games in 2010, when Gostkowski was placed on injured reserve with a leg injury.
The top free-agent kickers are inconsistent Jason Myers and Dan Bailey and 43-year-old Matt Bryant.
Gostkowski is 35 years old and isn’t showing many signs of slowing down. With over $24 million in salary cap space, we’d bring him back.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images