Nick Folk

Buccaneers To Sign Kicker Patrick Murray

The Buccaneers are changing kickers again, as Tampa Bay is currently working out a deal with free agent Patrick Murray, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).Patrick Murray (vertical)

Tampa Bay is unsurprisingly auditioned kickers following incumbent Nick Folk‘s dreadful performance against the Patriots on Thursday night. Folk missed three field goals in a game the Buccaneers ultimately lost by five points, so Tampa Bay took a look at Andrew FranksJosh LamboMike Nugent, Marshall Koehn, and Cairo Santos on Monday.

The Buccaneers, of course, are no strangers to problems at placekicker. Folk was initially signed to replace Roberto Aguayo, whom general manager Jason Licht & Co. drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft after a trade up. Aguayo struggled through his rookie campaign and the 2017 season before being waived, but Tampa Bay is now making a special teams transition once again.

Murray, 26, will now begin his second stint with the Buccaneers, as he was the club’s kicker during the 2014 campaign. The Fordham product didn’t appear in the NFL in 2015, and managed only two games in Cleveland last season before suffering an injury. For his career, Murray holds an 80.8% field goal conversion rate, and he’s missed only one extra point attempt.

Folk, meanwhile, will be placed on injured reserve with a “minor” designation, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That means Tampa Bay will be forced to release Folk once he’s deemed fully healthy. When that happens, the Buccaneers will eat the rest of Folk’s 2017 salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Folk, Hyde, Eagles

Buccaneers kicker Nick Folk missed three field goals in his team’s five-point loss to the Patriots on Thursday night. We’ve already learned that the team will be auditioning several free agent kickers this week, and Folk acknowledged that this is all part of the business.

“You have to be able to evaluate yourself, look at it and improve, learn, see what went wrong, make the corrections and move forward,” he told ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine. “Just go out there and swing. Don’t make it too hard. It’s not real hard when you get down to it.”

After connecting on more than 87-percent of his field goal attempts last season, Tampa Bay opted for the veteran over former second-rounder Roberto Aguayo. So far, Folk has only made six of his 11 attempts, and coach Dirk Koetter told Laine that he’s been surprised about the player’s struggles.

“When we decided on Nick as our kicker — I’ve told you guys this many times — whoever our kicker is, I’ve got total confidence in him,” Koetter said. “I think Nick was kicking very well up until a week ago. He had a rough day against the Giants, he came back, and the one day we kicked in practice [this week] he kicked very, very well. We had no reason to think Nick wasn’t going to kick well last night.

“There are a couple there that you’re expecting him to make. When I say, ‘We’re disappointed today’ at opportunities that we missed, that’s at a lot of different positions. That’s certainly one.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • 49ers running back Carlos Hyde is on pace to have one of his best NFL seasons, as he currently owns a career-high 4.9-yard-per-carry mark. Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com observes that the 27-year-old is having this success on a contract year, and it could lead to a hefty contract. Of course, part of the player’s improvement can be attributed to getting into shape, as general Manager John Lynch said on 95.7 The Game. “He got lighter and in much better shape. It’s showing. It’s paying dividends on the field. So we’re thrilled with the way he’s playing. He’s got to continue to do it,” Lynch said (via Cam Inman of MercuryNews.com).
  • Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood is set to miss tomorrow’s game, which would currently leave the team with LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, and Kenjon Barner. Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com notes (via Twitter) that none of those players are threats in the passing game, so he wonders if the team could promote Byron Marshall from the practice squad. The Oregon product appeared in three games last season, collecting three receptions for ten yards and 19 carries for 64 yards.
  • In case you missed it, second-round rookie defensive tackle Malik McDowell — who suffered a severe concussion in a July September ATV accident — could potentially return to the Seahawks this season.

Bucs Could Potentially Stick With Nick Folk

As expected, the Buccaneers are looking into making a change at kicker. However, it’s not a sure thing that they will move on from Nick Folk, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). "<strong

Initially, the Bucs were hoping to have a handful of kickers audition early next week, but the team is not enamored with the options presently available, Rapoport hears. That’s why, at the moment, only Mike Nugent and Andrew Franks are slated to for the tryout. If more names aren’t added to the list and neither Nugent nor Franks performs well, the Bucs could wind up sticking with Folk.

It has been a rough two games for Folk. On Sunday, he struggled against the Giants before nailing the game-winning field goal at the end. Then, on Thursday, he bricked all three FG tries, costing the Bucs a win over the defending champs.

Folk has missed five field goals already this season, but he missed only four during his entire 2016 campaign with the Jets (27 for 31). The Buccaneers, understandably, want to get this right given what they went through last season with Roberto Aguayo . As Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter) points out, the team has converted on just 28 of 42 field goal attempts (66%) since the beginning of the 2016 season. That marks the lowest percentage of any team in the league over that span.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers To Audition Kickers

Well, you knew this was coming. After Nick Folk‘s dreadful performance on Thursday night, the Buccaneers will work out kickers, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets"<strong

The audition will include Andrew Franks, Mike Nugent, and potentially two or three other kickers, Rapoport tweets. The kicker tryout is likely to take place next week rather than this weekend as the list is finalized, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times adds (on Twitter).

Folk went 0-for-3 on field goals against the Patriots, representing more than the difference between a Bucs win and loss. The Pats won by a score of 19-14 when Jameis Winston‘s end-of-the-game drive fell short.

Folk took full responsibility for Tampa Bay’s loss after the game, but his mea culpa will do little to help preserve his job. There’s no word on this yet, but Folk may not even get the opportunity to kick alongside the other hopefuls during the audition.

[It has been a [bad week],’’ Folk said on Thursday (via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times). “It started last Sunday and today. Bad week. “I left points out there. We should’ve won 20-19. This one is on me.’’

Two of Folk’s misses came in the fourth quarter, one from 49 yards out and one 31-yarder. He also missed a long 56-yard try at the end of the first half. This came on the heels of Sunday’s performance against the Giants in which he missed an extra point and two field goals before kicking the game-winner on the final play.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Bucs, Norwell, Cowboys

Buccaneers nickel corner Jude Adjei-Barimah will have surgery to repair the patellar fracture in his right knee and will be placed on IR, as Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. When we first learned of the injury, we heard that it could sideline Adjei-Barimah for roughly four months, meaning he would miss most of the 2017 campaign. Stroud’s report suggests that the 25-year-old DB will in fact miss the entire season.

In other bad news for the Bucs, linebacker Devante Bond, who was expected to open the season as the starting strongside linebacker, has a sprained PCL in his right knee, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Bond could still be ready for Week 1, but it may be four to six weeks before he plays again. Meanwhile, Laine adds that QB Ryan Griffin has a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder that will take a few weeks to heal. The team is not expected to sign another quarterback, which means that Ryan Fitzpatrick will likely win the backup job.

Now let’s take a look at a few more NFC rumors:

  • Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com tweets that the Buccaneers are expected to bring in another kicker in the wake of Roberto Aguayo‘s dismissal, but the new signing will be used for camp/preseason reps. That suggests that Nick Folk, and not a new acquisition, will be the team’s starting kicker.
  • Panthers guard Andrew Norwell is playing under a one-year RFA tender worth $2.75MM this year, but he hopes to get a long-term deal before the end of the season, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Norwell graded out as the league’s No. 11 guard in 2016, per Pro Football Focus, and has started 29 games over the past two seasons, firmly entrenching himself at left guard opposite Trai Turner. Turner, of course, recently received a lucrative extension from Carolina, and Norwell wants in on the action. He has even hired Turner’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to help him get paid.
  • Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliot has until Wednesday to appeal his six-game suspension, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Elliott will likely file the necessary paperwork on Tuesday.
  • Cowboys tight end Rico Gathers was hugely impressive in Dallas’ preseason game against the Rams last night, posting four catches and a touchdown. That builds upon the solid showing he had in the team’s first preseason matchup last week, and it is clear that he is the most explosive tight end on the roster. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Gathers has come a long way in a short time — the Cowboys selected Gathers, a collegiate basketball player, in the sixth round of the 2016 draft — and makes the fairly obvious point that Gathers has a legitimate shot to make the team.
  • The Redskins are very thin at outside linebacker following Trent Murphy‘s season-ending ACL tear, so they are moving ILB Pete Robertson outside to give themselves another pass-rusher, as Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post writes. Robertson, a UDFA in 2016 who has yet to play a regular season snap, did lead the Big 12 with 13 sacks as an outside linebacker for Texas Tech in 2014.

Buccaneers Waive Roberto Aguayo

It looks like the Buccaneers’ kicking competition has already been decided. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports (via Twitter) that the team has waived kicker Roberto Aguayo. Assuming he isn’t claimed, the organization will owe the player $428K (via ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter).

Roberto Aguayo (vertical)The Buccaneers (in)famously traded up in the second-round of the 2016 draft to select the Florida State product, surrendering a third- and fourth-rounder to make the pick. Aguayo struggled mightily during his rookie campaign, connecting on a league-worst 71-percent of his field goals.

Those struggles continued during the team’s first preseason game on Friday night. Aguayo did connect on one field goal, but he also missed a 47-yard attempt and an extra point. After the game, coach Dirk Koetter sounded like his patience was wearing thin.

“You know, I keep saying it, I can’t say it anymore. If you’re a kicker, you’ve got to make your kicks,” Koetter said (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com).

Aguayo is only 23-years-old, so there’s still a chance that he could develop into a competent kicker. As NFL.com’s Albert Breer pointed out (via Twitter), former second-rounder Mike Nugent struggled mightily before ultimately finding his own in Cincinnati.

As Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times cleverly noted on Twitter, the Buccaneers are now all but assuring that they’ll have a new primary kicker for the sixth straight season. The team will be turning to veteran Nick Folk, who joined the organization back in March. The veteran spent the past seven years with the Jets, and he set a franchise record with a 81.3 career field goal percentage (he also ranks second in franchise history in total points).

While the 32-year-old struggled earlier in his career, he’s been rather consistent over the past few years, connecting on at least 80-percent of his field goals over the past four seasons. Folk is also extremely reliable on extra point attempts, as the veteran has only missed a pair of his 337 career attempts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Folk, Eagles, Lions, Vick

Despite spending the entirety of the 2010s thus far with the Jets and being that franchise’s most accurate kicker, Nick Folk wasn’t especially surprised by his early-offseason release. The 32-year-old kicker is now with the Buccaneers, which would be surprising given their recent investment history at this position. Roberto Aguayo‘s struggles have opened the door to an ongoing competition, but Folk doesn’t believe he has to win it to be kicking in the NFL this season.

If I kick well, I’ll be kicking here or somewhere else,” Folk said, via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. “I can’t worry about things I can’t control. If I kick the best I can, I’ll be just fine.”

Folk signed a one-year, $1.75MM deal with $750K guaranteed. Aguayo went 22-for-31 on field goals last season, putting the former second-round pick’s future in question. Auman offers that Folk’s experience as an 11th-year veteran could give him the edge if this competition is close, Aguayo’s status as a rare Day 2 kicker pick notwithstanding. As Auman points out, Folk winning the job would make it six straight years the Bucs will have deployed a different kicker.

Here’s the latest from the NFC.

  • Despite Michael Vick seeming to indicate he was in the process of coming to an agreement with Falcons management on a one-day retirement contract, the former Falcons Pro Bowler said Sunday he hasn’t spoken with anyone with the team about doing this yet. But he has it on the agenda. “I haven’t talked to anybody about it specifically,” Vick said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “It’s something that I’ve really been thinking about trying to get done. I was asked the question the other day is that what I want, and I said, ‘Yeah.’ … When I spoke to [Falcons owner] Arthur [Blank], we talked about various other things,” Vick said. “Like I said, [retiring as a Falcon] is something that can happen down the road, and I think we both know that.” Vick told McClure he still has a good relationship with Blank despite one of the most notorious exits from a team in league history. Blank did invite Vick and other former Falcon greats to the Georgia Dome on New Year’s Day for a celebratory ceremony. The 36-year-old added that the Falcons are where his “identity lies as a player.”
  • A hamstring injury limited Teez Tabor this week at Lions OTAs, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com reports. Tabor is not expected to start this year, Rothstein points out, but the second-round pick missing time during his developmental stage would bring a sharper learning curve. The Lions have 16-game starter Nevin Lawson as the likely frontrunner to open the season opposite Darius Slay, and they signed D.J. Hayden to a one-year deal.
  • Dorial Green-Beckham‘s Eagles roster spot is in trouble, Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com opines. After the Eagles outfitted Jordan Matthews with outside hired guns in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, Zangaro expects Green-Beckham to fail to make the 53-man roster. Philadelphia’s wide receiver group also houses Nelson Agholor and rookie fourth-rounder Mack Hollins. The 24-year-old Beckham, once the No. 1 recruit in the country coming out of high school, played extensively for the Eagles last season but didn’t stand out. The former second-round Titans pick caught a career-high 36 passes but saw his yards-per-catch figure drop drastically, from 17.2 as a rookie to 10.9 in 2016. That said, Matthews, Jeffery and Smith could all be free agents after 2017 — Smith’s deal has option years — so retaining a formerly coveted player with two years left on his contract might be prudent from a long-term perspective.

Contract Details: Folk, Hawley, Sensabaugh

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed contracts:

NFC Notes: Bucs, Saints, Hankins

We heard earlier this month that the Buccaneers have “loose plans” for Doug Martin, which seemed to substantiate a prior report that the team was considering retaining their long-time running back. Martin, who will be suspended for the first three games of next season as part of a four-game ban he received in 2016 for violating the league’s PED policy, recently completed a voluntary rehab stint and met with head coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht a week before the scouting combine. Koetter and Licht both had nice things to say about Martin, but they were still vague on his future with the club.

As Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times writes, there are a number of factors working against Martin’s return, including his injury history, the above-referenced suspension, and the fact that his salary is no longer guaranteed as a result of the suspension. Cummings believes the team would be wise to select a running back from the deep class of RBs in the 2017 draft, and if the Bucs land one of this year’s top prospects, that might spell the end of Martin’s tenure in Tampa Bay.

Now for more from the NFC. We took a swing around the AFC earlier today:

  • Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders says that the Buccaneersrecent signing of Nick Folk suggests that the team is prepared to move on from Roberto Aguayo, though Tampa Bay could carry two kickers next season if need be and have Aguayo serve as a kickoff specialist if he cannot beat out Folk for full-time duties. Folk recorded just 39 touchbacks in 2016, the third-worst mark in the league, though he and Aguayo averaged the same distance average on kickoffs.
  • The Saints need to bolster their pass rush in 2017, and after signing Alex Okafor earlier this week, they are now meeting with one of the better pass-rushing prospects in this year’s draft class. As Herbie Teope of The Times-Picayune writes, the club is meeting with Kansas State DE Jordan Willis today. Willis is considered a second- or third-round prospect, and New Orleans has been monitoring him in recent months.
  • Free agent safety Duke Ihenacho will apparently not return to the Redskins in 2017. As Peter Hailey of CSNMidAtlantic.com writes, Ihenacho fired off several cryptic tweets over the past couple of days indicating that his time with Washington is over. Given that the Redskins recently acquired D.J. Swearinger and plan to move Su’a Cravens back to safety, Ihenacho’s departure makes sense.
  • Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com believes there is currently a 50-50 chance that DT Johnathan Hankins returns to the Giants. He also hears that Big Blue wants to add a physical power back to complement Paul Perkins, and LeGarrette Blount could be an option in that regard.
  • Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press examines seven free agents still on the market that could benefit the Lions, including LB Zach Brown and DE Chris Long.

Buccaneers To Sign Nick Folk

A year after trading up for kicker Roberto Aguayo and using a second-round draft pick on the ex-Florida State star, the Buccaneers may be ready to replace him. Tampa Bay has reached an agreement with free agent kicker Nick Folk, reports Peter Schrager of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The team announced the signing in a press release.

Nick Folk

Folk had been on the market since the Jets released him Feb. 23, which had more to do with opening up cap room than unhappiness with his performance. The 32-year-old, after all, drilled 27 of 31 field goal attempts and connected on 24 of 26 extra points last season. After he went through four down years with the Cowboys and Jets from 2009-12, Folk converted between 81.3 and 91.7 percent of field goals in each of the past four seasons.

Given Folk’s track record, it would seemingly be rather auspicious for the Bucs if Aguayo were to beat out the veteran during the summer for the team’s kicking job. Aguayo’s preseason issues last year transferred to the regular season, in which he made only 22 of 31 field goals. At 71 percent, he ranked last among the NFL’s 31 qualified kickers in conversion rate. On the positive side, Aguayo did make 32 of 34 extra points.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.