After the 2021 NFL Draft back in late April, the NY Jets had three kickers on their roster in Sam Ficken, Chase McLaughlin, and undrafted SMU free agent Chris Naggar. Four months later, all three are gone.
On May 7th, the Jets released McLaughlin, who signed on with the Cleveland Browns. Ficken was given the boot on July 30th — the Tennessee Titans claimed him off waivers.
And after the team's first preseason game against the New York Giants last weekend, the Jets waived Chris Naggar, who went 1-for-2 in his only outing with the green and white.
Somewhere in the midst of all these moves, Oklahoma State kicker Matt Ammendola got his foot in the door, earning a roster spot during a tryout, where the Jets worked out two other separate kickers, Matthew McCrane and Haidar Zaidan, on July 30th.
Since Pro Bowl kicker Jason Myers departed in free agency to the Seattle Seahawks after the 2018 season, the Jets have played a game of musical chairs at kicker.
Myers' replacement, Chandler Catanzaro, retired during the 2019 preseason while his replacement, Taylor Bertolet, was released so that the Jets could infamously claim Kaare Vedvik off of waivers from the Minnesota Vikings at final cuts. The former Raven was supposed to be the next big thing, but the Jets' gamble backfired.
Vedvik would miss both of his kicks, an extra point, and a 45-yard field goal in a 17-16 Week 1 home loss to the Buffalo Bills in his Jets debut. The kicking debacle was largely overshadowed by Sam Darnold's mono episode and CJ Mosley's grand opening, grand closing debut for Gang Green.
The Vedvik disaster was one of the first misfires in the early days of Joe Douglas's current run as Jets general manager. The truth is that when it comes to finding a long-term solution at kicker, Douglas and his scouting department have been shanking all of their attempts.
Returning special teams coordinator Brant Boyer can share some of the blame as well, but in fairness, he hasn't been given much to work with.
Perhaps it's their philosophical approach — the Jets haven't prioritized the kicker position in free agency or even in the draft. The team has instead opted to go the young, low-cost, low-risk route.
Not having to dedicate cap space to your special teams can allow you to concentrate on other areas of the team. The Jets would love to find a diamond in the rough kicker playing for the league minimum under team control for the next few years.