After an illustrious Patriots career that saw him win three Super Bowls and earn two All-Pro honors, Gostkowski signed with the Titans in 2020. He played in 15 games, converting 18 of 26 field goals and 46 of 48 extra points.
Any potential return would likely come no earlier than the 2022 season, as Gostkowski is currently sidelined by a Coxsackie viral infection. “I’m not in good enough shape”, he said. “But I’m not closing the door of never playing again. It’s just not in my immediate future.”
Gostkowski, collected four Pro Bowl nods with the Patriots from 2006-15 and left as the team’s all-time leading scorer. Across those 14 seasons, there were only two in which he didn’t make at least 82% of his field goal tries.
Stephen Gostkowski‘s stint in Tennessee might only last one season. Speaking to Titans season ticket holders, head coach Mike Vrabel admitted that the organization may consider other options at kicker, and the team could look toward the draft “if there’s a kicker available that we like.” Gostkowski is set to hit free agency this offseason.
“We have got to make more kicks,” said Vrabel (via Jim Wyatt of the team’s website). “We feel like we are going to have to address that position and see what Stephen (Gostkowski) is going to do. His contract is up, (we’ll see) what he wants to do. But we’re going to have to have guys in here that have competition and we want to find somebody that is going to make them.”
The Patriots moved on from the veteran last offseason, and it took him until early September to land his gig with the Titans. Gostkowski struggled at the beginning of the season, missing three field goals and an extra point try during Tennessee’s Week 1 victory. The veteran was solid the rest of the way, connecting on 17 of his 22 remaining field goal attempts and 46 of his next 47 extra point tries. The 37-year-old also provided most of the Titans’ scoring during their playoff loss to Ravens, converting two field goals and an extra point.
Gostkowski’s career-low 69.2-percent field goal percentage is obviously concerning, so it makes sense that the Titans could look for some competition. On the flip side, few kickers will be able to match Gostkowski’s resume and winning pedigree; the veteran has won three Super Bowls, earned four Pro Bowl appearances, and garnered two first-team All-Pro nods.
Here is the latest from some of the high-profile contracts signed around the league, beginning with the Texans’ former Pro Bowl connection:
Deshaun Watson, Texans: Four years, $177.4MM. Watson will receive $73.7MM in full guarantees, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. The deal includes fully guaranteed salaries of $1.177MM (2020), $10.54MM (2021) and $35MM (2022). This places the Pro Bowl passer third among QBs. Watson’s 2023 salary ($20MM) is guaranteed for injury at signing and becomes fully guaranteed on Day 4 of the 2022 league year, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. Watson’s $32MM salaries in 2024 and ’25 are non-guaranteed. Watson’s contract also contains a no-trade clause, per Wilson.
DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals: Two years, $54.5MM. Hopkins received $42.75MM guaranteed at signing, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. A $27.5MM signing bonus represents part of that guarantee, Rapoport adds (on Twitter). Hopkins received a no trade clause and a no-franchise tag clause, Rapoport tweets.
Cameron Heyward, Steelers: Four years, $71.4MM. Heyward’s second Steelers re-up includes a $17.5MM signing bonus, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. The Steelers will pay Heyward a $2.5MM roster bonus Friday.
September 3rd, 2020 at 8:39am CST by Zachary Links
The Titans have signed four-time Pro Bowler Stephen Gostkowski, per a club announcement. To make room, they’ve waived incumbent kicker Greg Joseph.
Gostkowski, the Patriots’ all-time leading scorer, lost his 2019 season to a labrum tear. Now, the 36-year-old is healthy, and ready to begin the next chapter of his career.
The Titans have been concerned about their kicking situation for some time. Last year, the Titans effectively went to the conference championship game in spite of their kickers. Four kickers combined to go just 8-of-18 on field goal tries – Joseph attempted just one FG, and made it, in the playoffs. Before this week’s shuffle, the Titans’ only other in-house option was UDFA Tucker McCann.
McCann may still get a chance to compete with Gostkowski, but it stands to reason that the veteran will be the team’s one and only kicker when the season starts. With 28 playoff games and 39 postseason field goals under his belt, Gostkowski fits the bill for the Titans, who are looking to take another leap forward in 2020.
Gostkowski certainly has the longer track record of success, being named to the 2010s’ All-Decade team and being the Patriots’ all-time scoring leader. But Hauschka is a 12-year veteran who kicked for the Seahawks during both of their most recent Super Bowl seasons.
The Bills released Hauschka last week, giving their kicker job to rookie Tyler Bass. The Titans experienced significant kicking issues last season, going through five players at the position. Only three of those five — Ryan Succop, Cairo Santos and Cody Parkey — attempted field goals; they combined to make just 8 of 18 attempts.
Greg Joseph, acquired late last season, resides as the Titans’ top in-house incumbent. He served as Tennessee’s kicker down the stretch and in the playoffs. A third-year vet, Joseph has kicked in 16 career games. Hauschka has kicked in 16 games in each of the past eight seasons. He made at least 83% of his field goals in each of his six Seattle seasons but came in under 80% in 2018 and ’19 in Buffalo.
A hip injury ended Gostkowski’s 2019 season and brought his lengthy New England run to a close. Gostkowski tore the labrum in his left hip last season but said in April he was improving. Should he prove healthy, the 36-year-old would obviously be an attractive option for kicker-needy teams.
Tennessee went through a brutal year on the kicker front in 2019. Although the Titans voyaged to the AFC championship game, they did so without much help from their field goal specialists. The Titans used four kickers last season. The group combined for an abysmal 8-for-18 make rate. The last of these kickers, Greg Joseph, did not attempt a field goal in the regular season and went 1-for-1 in the playoffs. Joseph and rookie UDFA Tucker McCann are the kickers on the Titans’ roster.
The Patriots’ all-time leading scorer, Gostkowski made four Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams between 2006-15. He made at least 82% of his field goal tries in 12 of 14 seasons.
The Browns may be out of the Jadeveon Clowneysweepstakes, leaving the Seahawks and Raiders as the the arguable frontrunners for his services. But don’t count the Titans out just yet. In a Periscope/Facebook Live conversation with PaulKuharsky.com, GM Jon Robinson talked about what a useful asset Clowney would be to Tennessee’s front seven and how he would complement the talent already on the roster.
But Robinson also reiterated that he wants to have team doctors examine Clowney before he moves forward in his attempts to sign him. While Robinson acknowledged that the former No. 1 overall pick looks good from what he has seen on social media, there is obviously no substitute for an in-person evaluation.
“Anytime you are dealing with whatever the contract is going to command, you want to make sure that the player is healthy, that you are able to allow your doctors to see him, to look at it, to make sure everything is going to be good,” Robinson said.
Those comments are noteworthy in light of the fact that the Titans were previously reported to have made multiple offers to Clowney earlier this offseason. Assuming those reports were accurate, it seems as if Robinson may have been willing to bring Clowney in on a fairly low-risk deal without a medical examination, but if he is going to make a sizable commitment, he needs to be assured that Clowney is in good health.
Robinson also said that the team would consider taking a look at veteran kicker Stephen Gostkowski. The longtime Patriots stalwart was released by New England in March on the heels of a 2019 season that was largely wiped out by a left hip injury. The Titans are currently rostering Greg Joseph, whom they signed off the Panthers’ taxi squad in December, and UDFA Tucker McCann. Robinson conceded that the PK job is Joseph’s to lose, but he would be amenable to bringing in Gostkowski to provide some worthy competition.
Gostkowski, 36, said in April that he has no plans to retire, but this is the first time we’ve heard his name since then. His 87.4% field goal percentage is the fifth-best of all time.
“I’m not ready to just hang it up,” Gostkowski said. “I’m gonna try to play. It’s going to be tough to show teams what I can do right now or work out or do a physical, but I’m not too worried about it. I’m not concerned. I kind of take things day by day.
I feel good. I’m starting to feel better. I’m trying to keep getting in better and better shape and I’ve probably done more so far this year as I would heading into a normal season so I feel like I’m ahead of where I usually am and I have nothing but time.”
Of course, Gotskowski’s free agent options are hindered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Any interested clubs would surely first want take a look at Gostkowksi’s medical records after a torn labrum in his left hip led to season-ending surgery a season ago. With a physical examination nearly impossible at the moment, Gostkowski may have to wait to land with another team.
A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All Pro, Gostkowski stands as one of this era’s best kickers. The former fourth-round pick’s 87.4% career field goal success rate ranks fifth in NFL history, and his 39 career playoff field goals rank behind only Adam Vinatieri’s 56 in postseason history.
There is plenty of logic to that. The Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 draft and are said to be high on him, and most believe that New England will spend 2020 cleaning up its salary cap situation and preparing for a return to contention in 2021. That means that the club will not pursue a potentially pricey QB like the recently-released Cam Newton, and it means that Stidham will have a chance to prove that he can be the rightful heir to Tom Brady.
Curran does say that if the COVID-19 pandemic puts a damper on Stidham’s development — which it seems almost certain to do — then Hoyer could get the nod to open the 2020 season. Stidham, though, would probably step in at some point thereafter. The Auburn product threw just four passes in his rookie campaign but put together a strong two years against SEC defenses in 2017-18.
While we’re on the subject of the Patriots, let’s round up a few more notes out of Foxborough:
The release of longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski did not create $3.5MM of cap space, as originally reported. Because $2MM of Gostkowski’s 2020 salary was fully-guaranteed, the move actually frees up less than $1MM of space. So as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, Gostkowski’s release wasn’t financially motivated; the team just wanted a new kicker.
Hoyer’s contract calls for a $1.05MM salary with $2MM in playing time incentives, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Because his deal with the Colts contained offsets, Hoyer will earn at least $2MM in 2020.
The Patriots agreed to sign veteran defensive back Cody Davis yesterday, and ESPN’s Field Yates reports that Davis will take home a $1.1MM base salary and landed a $100K signing bonus (Twitter link). He will carry a cap charge of $1.5MM.
Fullback Dan Vitale‘s new contract is a one-year pact worth $1.3MM, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. He received a $100K signing bonus and can earn another $200K in playing time incentives.