Jan 1, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus (8) kicks the ball in the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets released a lot of their veterans this season, and kicker Nick Folk was one of them. Here are the top five options they could consider using to replace him.
The New York Jets have made it clear that they want to start rebuilding by releasing many of their veteran players. One of those players was long time kicker Nick Folk. This obviously puts them in the market for a new kicker.
There are a few options they can consider: getting one in the draft, getting one through free agency or sticking with their current kicker, Ross Martin.
The kicker position is usually a rather unpopular topic to write about, but they are people too, and they deserve some recognition. Plus, they can be the ones to decide a win or loss sometimes, and with the relatively new extra point rule, that make-or-break situation has become more common.
The point of this article is to break down all of the best options the Jets can pursue at the kicker position this offseason. Some options may be more or less realistic, depending on their current rebuilding situation, or due to their salary cap. With all of that said, let’s get started.
Next: 3. Keeping Ross Martin
Sep 3, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Duke Blue Devils placekicker Ross Martin (35) kicks a field goal against the Tulane Green Wave during the first quarter of a game at Yulman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
3. Keeping Ross Martin
The Jets signed Duke kicker Ross Martin just after the NFL Draft last season. Martin was a pretty decent kicker for Duke University but did not get picked up in the draft.
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In college, Martin made 78 of his 93 field goal attempts, which averaged out to an 83.9 field goal percentage. He also made 99.5 percent of his extra point attempts.
Martin spent all of 2016 learning under Folk, and he’s likely ready to show what he’s learned. If the Jets went ahead with him, then they would be taking the best step in the right direction towards rebuilding. It would show that they have the patience to build up every position on the roster.
On the other hand, if Martin is not ready, then this decision could cost them a few games. If he doesn’t feel comfortable kicking in front of an NFL audience, then he definitely won’t be the best replacement in the future.
Next: 2. Sign Brandon McManus
Dec 25, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus (8) kicks the point after touchdown during a football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 33-10. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
2. Sign Brandon McManus
Brandon McManus did a great job of replacing Matt Prater in the first couple years of his career, and since his first season, he’s averaged an 82.9 field goal percentage. His longest field goal in his three years was 57 yards.
The best part of this decision is that he’s still young at 26 years old. He’s got a lot of years left on him as a kicker, and he’s got great talent. If the Jets signed him, the kicker position would already be rebuilt.
The bad part about this is that he may want some money, and even though he’s a kicker, he could still take a good chunk out of the salary cap room. Overall, if the Jets want to truly rebuild, the risk of overpaying may outweigh the reward of a solid kicker.
Next: 1. Draft Zane Gonzalez
1. Draft Zane Gonzalez
It really seems like the Jets want to rebuild in the 2017 NFL Draft, and they could do this with the kicking position as well. Arizona State kicker Zane Gonzalez is a perfect candidate to fill this position.
Gonzalez did well in his time with the Sun Devils, averaging an 82.8 field goal percentage, and making 96 of his 116 attempts. He also hit his longest field goal at 59 yards.
These stats seem great, but there’s one big problem, and that’s uncertainty. When rebuilding in the draft, general managers always have the question in their mind of “Is this player really good enough to perform at the highest level?”
This question isn’t just asked with the skill players, it goes for kickers too. If the kicker is scared of the big crowds and the big linemen coming at him, he could miss the majority of his field goals. Also, the extra point is shorter in college.
If Gonzalez can’t make those longer extra points, his career will fall. There are multiple other players in the free agency, and on the draft, but these are the two best ones in each market. Also, if the Jets don’t want to risk wasting money, they could always just stick with Martin.