Eddy Pineiro

Panthers To Sign K Eddy Pineiro

Eddy Pineiro became a player to monitor early in the Panthers’ kicker search, having been with the Bears during new Carolina special teams coordinator Chris Tabor‘s tenure. The Panthers are indeed going in this direction.

Pineiro, 26, is signing with Carolina on a one-year deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. He will fill in for the injured Zane Gonzalez. While it was not certain at the time Gonzalez’s groin injury would cost him all of the 2022 season, the Panthers placed the veteran kicker on IR Tuesday. Gonzalez, who kicked for the Panthers for much of last season, is out of the picture for the team until 2023.

The Bears’ ST coordinator throughout Matt Nagy‘s four-year tenure, Tabor landed with the Panthers this offseason. His Pineiro past stems from the young specialist being tabbed as the franchise’s post-“double doink” option at the position — after a much-discussed kicker competition — in 2019. Pineiro kicked in all 16 Bears games that season, though he was not retained for the 2020 slate. Most recently, Pineiro wound up with the Jets, kicking in five games last season.

Greg Zuerlein beat out Pineiro for the Jets’ kicking job in training camp, but Gonzalez worked out for the Panthers — along with fellow ex-Jet Matt Ammendola, former Jaguar Matthew Wright and others — on Monday. During his one full season as an NFL kicker, Pineiro made 23 of 28 field goals — in one of the NFL’s least friendly kicking environments — and was 27-for-29 on extra points. Last season, the ex-Florida Gator was 8-for-8 on field goals and 9-for-10 on PATs.

Gonzalez signed a two-year, $4.5MM deal ($2MM guaranteed) to stay in Carolina this offseason. Although Pineiro will likely be attached to a league-minimum deal, the Panthers will soon be responsible for two kicker salaries. They entered Wednesday with the league’s third-most cap space, at just under $20MM, however.

Panthers Work Out Five Kickers

Zane Gonzalez was injured on the sideline during Friday’s preseason contest, and the Panthers are now eyeing some reinforcement at kicker. According to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter), the Panthers worked out kickers Taylor Bertolet, Brian Johnson, Chase McLaughlin, Eddy Pineiro, and Matthew Wright.

After seeing time in 15 games across two seasons with five different teams, McLaughlin got a chance to be the Browns’ full-time kicker in 2021. He converted 15 of his 21 field goal attempts and 36 of his 37 extra point attempts. With Cleveland selecting Cade York in the fourth round of the draft, McLaughlin was ultimately cut back in May.

Wright got into 14 games for the Jaguars last year, connecting on 21 of his 24 field goal attempts and 13 of his 15 XP tries. After converting 82.1 percent of his FG attempts in 16 games with the Bears in 2021, Pineiro saw time in five games with the Jets last year. He made all eight of his field goal attempts and nine of his 10 extra point attempts.

Johnson appeared in seven games between New Orleans and Washington last year, connecting on all 10 of his field goal attempts (but only nine of his 13 extra point tries). Bertolet, an undrafted free agent back in 2016, has spent time with five NFL teams but hasn’t seen time in a regular season game.

Gonzalez injury himself on Friday night while warming up on the sideline. It was later revealed that he suffered a significant groin injury, with Ellis Williams of the Charlotte Observer writing that it could be a season-ending injury.

Panthers K Zane Gonzalez To Miss Extended Stretch

2:15pm: The Panthers’ search will start with Brian Johnson, a Virginia Tech product who kicked in seven games with Washington and New Orleans last season, Person tweets. Johnson was 10-for-10 on field goal attempts but missed four extra points as a rookie.

1:21pm: After the news of Sam Darnold‘s injury, the Panthers have another veteran set to miss what looks like an extended time period. Zane Gonzalez suffered what Matt Rhule called a significant, long-term injury, David Newton of ESPN.com tweets. He suffered the setback during warmups.

Gonzalez, whom the Panthers re-signed this offseason, sustained a groin injury. As a result, the Panthers are looking for a replacement kicker. Gonzalez, 27, is the only one on Carolina’s roster. The Panthers can stash him on IR after roster cutdown day.

[RELATED: Darnold Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks]

The former Browns and Cardinals specialist missed the final four games of last season due to a quadriceps injury. He re-signed with the Panthers on a two-year, $4.5MM deal in March. Gonzalez has not kicked in a full season since 2019, when he was with the Cardinals. He connected on a career-high 90.9% of his field goal tries in 2021 and was 22-for-23 on PATs with the Panthers last season.

Carolina has gone through some kicker turnover in recent years. The team moved on from Joey Slye after two seasons and ditched Slye’s replacement — 2021 trade acquisition Ryan Santoso — after one game. Lirim Hajrullahu also worked as the team’s primary Gonzalez replacement. Hajrullahu is available, after the Cowboys waived him last week.

Rhule said the team will look at free agent fill-in options while examining teams with two-kicker rosters presently. Kickers will be available on the waiver wire Tuesday, when rosters must be slashed from 80 to 53 players. New special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will help with the search, per The Athletic’s Joe Person, who notes recently cut Jets kicker Eddy Pineiro will be a name to monitor (Twitter link). Tabor coached Pineiro with the Bears.

Jets To Waive K Eddy Pineiro

The Jets have made their kicker decision. Offseason addition Greg Zuerlein looks to have won the job. The team is waiving Eddy Pineiro on Tuesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Pineiro kicked in five Jets games last season, making all eight of his field goal tries and going 9-for-10 on PATs. But the Jets scooped up Zuerlein after the Cowboys cut him this offseason. The veteran kicker is also attached to a slightly bigger contract — one year, $2MM ($1MM guaranteed). Though, Pineiro was set to make $1.75MM ($750K guaranteed) this year.

Barring another change at the position, Zuerlein will be on track to kick for a third team and begin an 11th season as a franchise’s primary kicker. The strong-legged specialist who earned All-Pro recognition in 2017 and made a 58-yard field goal to send the Rams to Super Bowl LIII a year later struggled in his second Cowboys season. Zuerlein, 34, missed a career-high six extra points in 2021. He made 82.9% of his field goal tries in each of his Cowboys campaigns.

Both players were not faring well during the Jets’ offseason program, and Zuerlein’s leash is certainly not as long as it was during his Rams tenure.

The Jets have not enjoyed kicking stability for a bit. They used three kickers during both the 2020 and ’21 seasons. Kaare Vedvik not working out in 2019 led to the team using two that year. Gang Green has featured a different kicker in each of the past six seasons. Jason Myers, a Pro Bowler as a Jet in 2018, was easily the best of the bunch. The team did not re-sign him in free agency the following offseason.

Kicking Struggles In New York With Pineiro And Zuerlein

The Jets finished last in the AFC East last season. While they did rank 28th in offensive yardage in the league and finished dead last in yards allowed, they got no help from their kicking game as the team converted only 77.78% of its field goal attempts and 85.19% of its extra points. According to Connor Hughes at The Athletic, things haven’t looked much better for Gang Green this offseason. 

Last season saw the NFL debut of Oklahoma State undrafted kicker Matt Ammendola as he began the year as New York’s primary kicker. While he didn’t get a chance to score in Week 1, since the Jets went for two-point conversions on each of their two touchdowns, he did contribute with six punts for 291 total yards after starting punter Braden Mann sprained his knee after his first punt of the season. Ammendola would go on to man the kicking position for the first 12 weeks of the season, missing 1 of 15 extra points and converting 13 of 19 field goals along the way. He was perfect from 39 yards and in, but only 2 for 5 in the 40-49 yard range and missed all three attempts over 50 yards. After a rough two-week stretch that saw him miss 3 of 6 field goals, Ammendola was waived and placed on the practice squad after going unclaimed.

The Jets then brought in former Gators kicker Eddy Pineiro, who was the primary kicker for the entire season for the Bears two years ago. Pineiro added some stability to the kicking game, converting all eight of his field goals attempts but did miss one extra point. He even converted the Jets first and only 50+ yard field goal of the season in order to give the Jets a three-point lead over the Buccaneers going into halftime.

New York entered the offseason with Ammendola and Pineiro, but decided late into March that they wanted to bring in a veteran presence in Greg Zuerlein. Greg the Leg spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Rams, joining the Cowboys two years ago as Dallas’s primary kicker. Mr. the Leg has seen varying success throughout his career spanning from a 2015 season in which he missed a third of his kicks to a 2017 All-Pro season that saw his miss only 2 of an attempted 40. He is known as a kicker of great distance. Despite only converting 55.07% of his field goal attempts over 50 yards, his longest converted field goal of the season has routinely been above 54 yards, with two seasons entering into the 60+ yard range.

Three days after bringing in Zuerlein, New York waived Ammendola, leaving the kicking competition to be settled by Zuerlein or Pineiro. The Jets special teams coordinator Brant Boyer has described the race between the two as “tight,” claiming Pineiro and Zuerlein are “neck and neck.” Unfortunately, the competition is so close because neither kicker has made a strong case to be awarded the position over the other.

Boyer will have to make a decision at some point, but he’s likely hoping Pineiro or Zuerlein will make the decision for him by stepping up to take the role. Hughes posits that, like many past seasons for Gang Green, New York’s Week 1 kicker might not even be on the roster yet.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/16/22

Here’s a look at the latest tender decisions from around the NFL:

RFAs

Tendered:

Non-tendered:

ERFAs

Tendered:

Jets To Sign Eddy Pineiro

Sounds like the Jets are moving on from Alex Kessman. After his two missed two extra points on Sunday, the Jets are signing kicker Eddy Pineiro, according to agent Drew Rosenhaus (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). 

The Jets had an early lead over the Eagles when Kessman sent his second extra point wide left. Things only got worse from there as the Birds went on to win 33-18.

Just gotta make them,” Kessman said (via the New York Post). “It’s what I do for a living, and I gotta make those kicks. There’s no excuses…I gotta control what I can control. If they send me out there to kick, I go out there and kick. Doesn’t matter where from, what time. I go out there and do my job, and I didn’t do my job today. Plain and simple. … I’m not gonna let two kicks define me and the kicker I am.”

Gang Green will in fact hold him accountable for his missed XPs. Now, Pineiro will become the Jets’ ninth kicker since 2017.

Pineiro lost the Colts’ kicking competition this year and hasn’t seen live action since 2019. That year, spent with the Bears, he went 23-of-28 on field goals (82.1%) and 27-of-29 on XPs.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/3/21

Here are Friday’s practice squad moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Football Team

Colts Cut Eddy Pineiro

The Colts have cut kicker Eddy Pineiro (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). That leaves Rodrigo Blankenship as Indy’s top leg moving forward and puts a decent kicker on the waiver wire just before the start of the season. 

Pineiro was perfect throughout the preseason but the Colts have decided to go in another direction. Pineiro joined the Colts back in May and seemed to have a real chance of unseating Blankenship. The UDFA out of Georgia was shaky throughout 2020, going just 1-of-3 from 50+ yards. Blankenship was supposed to be an accuracy kicker, but he also had a few critical misses from close range. To his credit, he did go 43 of 45 on extra point tries.

Pineiro appeared in all 16 of the Bears’ 2019 games, going 23-of-28 on field goals (82.1%) and 27-of-29 XPs. He’s perhaps best known for the trade that sent him from the Raiders to the Bears, furnishing Las Vegas with an extra seventh-round draft choice.

The rest of the league will have 24 hours to claim Pineiro. If he goes unclaimed, he’ll be free to sign with any club.