The 5 best kickers in the history of the New England Patriots

Feb 3, 2002; New Orleans, LA, USA; FILE PHOTO; New England Patriots kicker (4) ADAM VINATIERI celebrates after kicking a 48 yard field goal as time expired to win Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams at the Superdome 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY NETWORK
Feb 3, 2002; New Orleans, LA, USA; FILE PHOTO; New England Patriots kicker (4) ADAM VINATIERI celebrates after kicking a 48 yard field goal as time expired to win Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams at the Superdome 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY NETWORK / Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the history of the Patriots, especially during the Bill Belichick era, special teams have been treated as an essential third unit.

That's not the case with every other team in the league, but given how easily the performances of specialists can dictate the fate of a game, New England has historically prioritized making a solid special teams unit.

When it comes to positions like kicker, the Patriots have been very lucky to have rostered many of the league's historical best, many of whom contributed to their post-season success.

Criteria for selection

Despite the assumption of the contrary, there is a lot to consider when evaluating the importance of a kicker during their tenures with the Patriots.

When ranking the top five best kickers in the franchise's history, the timing of their tenures, their reliability and availability, and their consistency are the basis for where they should be ranked.

Some were part of the team during a more influential era, like the dynasty years, but that doesn't diminish the role's importance if the team didn't make the Super Bowl essentially every other year.

The 5 best kickers in the history of the New England Patriots

5. Tony Franklin

After the departure of another great kicker in John Smith, the Patriots found themselves a solid new specialist with Tony Franklin, who became known for his strong leg during his career. He had already played for the Eagles from 1979 to 1983, but saved his best performances for his arrival in New England.

Franklin's was an integral part of the team during his tenure, missing just three extra points in three seasons and recording a 74% field goal completion as well. His best season came in 1986 when he recorded the most field goals attempted (41) and made (32) in the league, while missing just one extra point all year.

It was the same season he set a team record with a 57-yard field goal and his performance throughout the year earned him a Pro Bowl selection and Second-Team All-Pro honors.

4. John Smith

After starting his kicking career with the New England Colonials, John Smith went on to play for the New England Patriots in 1974 and remained with the team until his retirement due to injury in 1983.

During his tenure in the NFL, he became one of the most reliable kickers in the league and has some of the most memorable moments that are still discussed today, most notably scoring the only points in the infamous "snowplow game" of 1982.

His consistency helped the Patriots on many occasions over the years, and he was a solid contributor to helping the Patriots reach the postseason four times during his career. Smith had become so good that he even earned Pro Bowl honors in 1980.

At the time of his retirement, Smith was the second-leading scorer in team history, falling only behind Gino Cappelletti. Fast-forward 41 years, and he remains in the top-5 on that list, which is pretty remarkable.

3. Gino Cappelletti

When it comes to being a multi-threat player, nobody fits that term better than Gino Cappelletti. The career-long Boston Patriot served multiple roles during his 11-year career, taking snaps as a receiver, defensive back, kick/punt returner, kicker, and more.

If the team needed him, Cappelletti was there and probably doing a better job than some starters. Not only that, he consistently played at a high level, which led to him leading the league in scoring five times.

He set multiple records throughout his career, as well, with perhaps the most impressive of all remaining to this day; he remains the only player in the history of the NFL to catch a pass, intercept a pass, run for a two-point conversion, throw a two-point conversion, return a punt and a kickoff all in the same season.

At the time of his retirement in 1971, he was the AFL's leading scorer with 176 field goals and 342 extra points made. He still sits in the top three in Patriots history, too, behind only Stephen Gostkowski and Adam Vinatieri.

2. Stephen Gostkowski

After the untimely departure of Adam Vinatieri after the 2005 season, the Patriots needed to find a solid replacement who could maybe produce even half as good as the most clutch kicker in the game.

They were fortunate to draft him in 2006, selecting Stephen Gostkowski out of Memphis in the fourth round. To make it even better, he stuck around through the 2019 season and was as consistent as they could come throughout his tenure.

During his 14 years with the team, he only missed 20 regular season games out of a possible 224, and that reliability helped the team win three Super Bowls while he was on the roster. He became the team's leading scorer with 1,775 points made while being named to four Pro Bowls and earning two All-Pro honors.

Ideally, it would have been great if Gostkowski could have ended his career where it started, but nagging back and knee injuries ultimately got him released, and he finished his career with the Titans after the 2020 season.

Regardless, he was exactly what the Patriots needed at the right time, which cemented his legacy in Foxboro as one of the best ever.

1. Adam Vinatieri

There aren't many positions in football that you can arguably say someone is the greatest of all time that isn't considered one of the most important roles in the game, i.e., quarterback, receiver, etc. But when it comes to being the most clutch kicker in the sport, it's hands down Adam Vinatieri.

When reflecting upon the start of the Patriots dynasty in the early 2000s, it's hard not to think about how much Vinatieri contributed to bringing home three Lombardi's to Foxboro. Of course, most of the focus goes to Tom Brady, and in many ways, that's expected.

However, the tuck rule game, the Super Bowl-winning field goals, and much more all point back to one player, and without him, there might be fewer trophies around Gillette Stadium.

He played 160 games during his ten years in New England, recording an 81.9% completion rate for field goals and 98.1% completion rate for extra points. His impressive career continued for 14 more years after he left the Patriots in 2006, where he played until he was 47 to become the third oldest player in NFL history.

Honorable mention: Nick Folk 2019-2022

The 5 best kickers in the history of the Patriots by points scored


Player Name

Years with Team

Points scored


Stephen Gostkowski




Adam Vinatieri




Gino Cappelletti




John Smith




Tony Franklin



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