Chad Ryland is put in the hot seat with new Patriots signing

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots
Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

From the moment Bill Belichick decided to trade up in the fourth round to select a kicker in the 2023 NFL Draft, Chad Ryland was put under a microscope. For a legendary head coach known for putting together some of the best special teams units over the last two decades to make such a bold and rare move, he must be really good, right?

That was the assumption, given Belichick's odd decision. Although the Eastern Michigan alum was touted as a solid prospect, most believed he wasn't the best of the class nor worthy of a fourth-round pick.

But this is Belichick we're talking about, so there was an underlying belief that he must see something others don't, as he has many times in the past.

Unfortunately, due to the team's efforts to draft him, Ryland never lived up to the expectations. He looked good throughout the summer, and fans felt the team finally found a young kicker to eventually take over the starting role.

But when the decision was made to cut Folk and keep Ryland, which led to the kicking game being one of the most inconsistent units on the team, many were calling for the rookie to be cut midway through the 2023 season.

Although he seems to have internal support, even from the old staff, it looks like the Patriots want to bring in competition to spice things up. They already invited an undrafted free agent kicker to rookie mini camp next week, and now they have reportedly signed a newly released veteran.

Chad Ryland is put in the hot seat with new Patriots signing

The Jaguars released Joey Slye just a few days ago, and the Patriots jumped at the chance to bring him in. The kicker was signed to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding even more competition for Ryland this summer.

Slye isn't coming off that great of a season. He finished 2023 with a 79.2% field goal success rate, which was Ryland's weak spot last year. However, through his five-year career, he's recorded an 82.3% completion rate for field goals and 91.4% for extra points.

His recent stats might not impress you, but Slye looks like he has a strong leg that could be exactly what the Patriots special teams needs.

One example from his two seasons with the Commanders is this 61-yard successful field goal he hit, which could have been good even further back. If he can bring that to Patriots games, then they might be in a better position than with Ryland.

Regardless of what's to come, competition can be a good motivator for anyone in a competitive sport. Bringing in two kickers so far this offseason could be the fuel needed for Ryland to work harder and regain the confidence he lost last year.

The kicker battle will be one of the most fascinating roster competitions to watch this summer, which is almost funny to say. But good kickers aren't easy to find.

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