The 2020 Patriots will look vastly different than last season, and parting ways with Stephen Gostkowski marks yet another end of an era in New England.
News of the transaction was first reported by the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride on Monday, and McBride’s opening lede to the news report provided an ample epitaph to Gostkowski’s tenure:
"Tom Brady walked over to the sideline and simply said to the coaching staff, “Let’s just kick the field goal.”Moments later, Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 41-yarder to clinch a 13-3 win over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3, 2019.That probably will be the last memory many Patriots fans have of Gostkowski, who was released Monday afternoon, a league source confirmed."
Brady will continue commanding the majority of attention, yes. But one shouldn’t overlook the fact Gostkowski, not Brady, actually is New England’s franchise leader in scoring with 1,775 points, as NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football pointed out:
Gostkowski had the unenviable task of replacing another top scorer on that list, kicker Adam Vinatieri, who was already a Patriots hero from the early 2000s. And while Vinatieri solidified his own legacy in New England, Gostkowski’s efforts far surpassed the player he replaced.
Gostkowski was named a Pro Bowler for the first time in his career back in 2008, then again for three consecutive years between 2013 and 2015. He can also tack on two first-team All-Pro selections during his 14-year Patriots tenure.
Three Super Bowl wins, the franchise’s all-time scorer, an 87.4 field-goal percentage from 204 games, which ranks best among qualifiers with at least 20 attempts.
Yeah, not a bad career if Gostkowski decides to call it a career.
Currently, New England doesn’t have another place kicker on its roster, so one can suggest head coach Bill Belichick will use the roughly $2.6 million created in cap space to either sign a lower-cost free agent or potentially grab someone during or after the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft.
Whoever that kicker winds up being, though, will also have some massive shoes to fill, just like Gostkowski did when he was asked to replace Vinatieri.
Either way, it’s the close of an era in New England, and not just because of Brady’s departure. Gostkowski leaving only puts an exclamation point on what will be a major change for the franchise heading into 2020.
Thank you, Stephen.