New England Patriots: internal free agent preview
By Hal Bent
Overview: The Patriots have received remarkably consistent production from the kicker position throughout the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era. With just Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski occupying the position during that time, consistency in the kicking game has been a strength and source of security for the Patriots as a franchise.
Amazingly, Gostkowski has been in New England for 13 years now and kicked in 200 regular season games (all statistics from Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted).
Vinatieri had more big, high-pressure kicks in his tenure in New England than Gostkowski, and the latter has missed a number of key kicks in the past four playoff seasons. In 2015, it was a missed extra point in the AFC Championship game that forced the Patriots to try to convert a two-point conversion to tie the game late. In 2016, it was a missed extra point in the Super Bowl that forced the Patriots to convert another two-point conversion.
In 2017, Gostkowski missed both an extra point and a field goal against the Eagles in the Super Bowl; a four-point margin that ended up being a huge cost to New England in the game. This past year, he missed a make-able 46-yard field goal against the Rams in the Super Bowl.
The missed kicks the 35-year old kicker have piled up may be enough reason for New England’s front office to consider a change. However, the Patriots should pause before doing anything too rash – they don’t want to end up paying more for special teams consistency and risking the merry-go-round of kickers that have plagued other franchises.
Expected Cost: $5 to $6 million per season for four years, with at least $10 million guaranteed.
Keep or Cut Loose: KEEP