Could the Patriots already be searching for Nick Folk’s replacement?
The New England Patriots being eliminated from playoff contention in 2020 seemed inevitable and it was finally made official following their loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
While some fans will view that as a negative, an undeniable positive takeaway is that the loss gives the front office an excuse to start looking ahead to the offseason, when they will hopefully make a multitude of roster changes.
We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but the latest update from practice indicates that they’re already looking to the future. In a fundamentally puzzling move, the Patriots reportedly brought in free agent kicker Roberto Aguayo for a workout on Monday.
In light of this news, you really can’t help but question what it all means regarding Nick Folk’s future with the team beyond the final two games of the season.
Folk is set to become a free agent, so it’s possible the Patriots are just experimenting with potential long-term replacements. However, what makes this a head-scratching move is the fact that the 36-year-old veteran has been pretty automatic this year.
In 14 games, Folk is converting on 92.5% (25-of-27) of his field goal tries. That includes a streak of 25 consecutive makes after missing his first two attempts to start the campaign. He’s also been dependable on extra points, drilling 26 of his 28 attempts (92.9%). The last time we checked, that effectiveness normally earns players a new contract, not be forced to watch their potential successor partake in a tryout.
On the other side of the spectrum, Aguayo has struggled to gain his footing in the NFL after being drafted in the second-round by the Buccaneers back in 2016. As a rookie, he made just 71% (22-for-31) of his field goal attempts and hasn’t appeared in a regular season game since … but not for lack of trying.
Since then, the Florida State product has had brief stints with the likes of the Chargers, Panthers and Bears. The greatest chance he had at winning a starting job came with the Chargers during the 2018 preseason, when he was perfect on three field goals and six extra points. However, he came up short in the kicking battle coming out of training camp.
Truth be told, the Patriots hosting Aguayo for a workout probably has more to do with their lack of conviction in 2020 fifth-round pick Justin Rohrwasser, who’s spent the entire year on the practice squad, than the uncertainty surrounding Folk’s future with the team.
The Patriots love nothing more than making their fan base scramble, so this move could end up meaning nothing when all is said and done. At the same time, however, it’s definitely something to monitor over the final two weeks of 2020 before we head into the offseason.