Three years after Blankenship unseated McLaughlin as the Colts’ kicker, the Buccaneers are going the other way. Tampa Bay waived Blankenship on Monday, leaving McLaughlin as the only kicker on the roster.
Blankenship went 1-for-3 on field goal tries against the Jets on Saturday; McLaughlin made his only attempt. Although Blankenship was 1-for-1 in Tampa Bay’s first preseason game, McLaughlin is the team’s kicker pick.
The Bucs added Blankenship after minicamp, bringing him in nearly three months after signing McLaughlin on a one-year deal with $100K guaranteed. The Bucs did not guarantee Blankenship anything. While this competition was not to succeed a Hall of Famer, as the 2020 Colts duel was after Adam Vinatieri‘s exit, McLaughlin now looks like he will go into the season as Ryan Succop‘s successor. Succop, who remains unsigned, spent the past three seasons in that role. Succop provided some continuity for a Bucs team that spent most of the 2010s changing kickers annually, but a cap-strapped Tampa Bay operation made the veteran a cap casualty this year.
Monday’s development continues the intertwined careers of McLaughlin and Blankenship. The latter, a former Groza award winner while at Georgia, kicked in all 16 Colts games in 2020. But he suffered an injury five games into the 2021 season. Blankenship struggled in Week 1 of last season, missing a 42-yard field goal in overtime and sending two kickoffs out of bounds. Indianapolis’ usual kickoff man, Rigoberto Sanchez, was out due to a season-ending injury sustained in training camp. The team then signed McLaughlin to replace Blankenship.
McLaughlin kicked in 16 Browns games in 2021 and 16 Colts contests last year. The Bucs added him, in part, because of long-range success. McLaughlin made 9 of 12 50-plus-yard tries in 2022 and was 4-for-4 in 2021. Succop went just 2-for-7 last season. Blankenship, who finished last season with the Cardinals, is not a vested veteran and will head to the waiver wire.
Kickers frequently change cities around this point, with teams monitoring other rosters to fill this oft-unstable position. Blankenship could soon land another opportunity, though he has now been cut twice in 11 months.