New kicker? Here are Bucs' best options
Bucs kicker Nick Folk has now missed six kicks in the last two weeks and seven on the season -- no other kicker in the NFL has missed more than three. Folk went 0-for-3 on field goals in Thursday's 19-14 loss to the Patriots and admitted after the game that the Bucs should have won the game and that the loss was on him.
So if the Bucs move on, four games into their season, what are their options?
(UPDATE: We can report at 10:30 a.m. that the Bucs are reaching out to potential replacements and lining up a workout, which doesn't look good for Folk)
We'll sort them into three groups -- Good But Injured, Experienced and Available and Unproven Talents. The first two make the most sense, but the last two have shown up well in the past month -- rookie Jake Elliott hit a 61-yard field goal to give the Eagles a win after being signed off the Bengals' practice squad, and rookie Harrison Butker hit a game-winner for the Chiefs last weekend after being signed off the Panthers' practice squad.
Nick Folk: This one is on me, kicker says
GOOD BUT INJURED
Cairo Santos: He was waived-injured by the Chiefs 10 days ago after injuring his groin. He initially was going on injured reserve, which would have sidelined him eight weeks, but Kansas City opted to waive him with an injury settlement. Santos went 31-for-35 last year on field goals with a long of 54, also going 36-for-39 on extra points. He's only 25, has a career 84 percent success rate on field goals, but again, Bucs need a kicker in 10 days and he might not be ready. Fans have asked about Philadelphia's Caleb Sturgis, but he's on injured reserve with the Eagles and unavailable. (UPDATE: Santos isn't an immediate option for the Bucs -- he's about three weeks away from being healthy as he recovers from his groin injury)
EXPERIENCED AND AVAILABLE
Dan Carpenter: Perhaps the most successful experienced option -- he's 31, has nine full seasons as an NFL kicker. He missed 11 kicks last year with Buffalo -- 19-for-25 on field goals, 40-for-45 on extra points, and the Bills brought in Steven Hauschka to replace him. He's very much like Folk, with a career 84 percent success rate -- he's stuck at 999 career points, compared to 1,077 for Folk. His long last year was 50, but he's made field goals from as long as 60 yards in his career.
Josh Lambo: He was the Chargers' kicker last year and lost out to rookie Younghoe Koo, who has since been cut. Lambo worked out for the Bears, who gave Roberto Aguayo a look instead, and worked out for the Raiders, who opted for Giorgio Tavecchio. So Lambo's available -- he did miss 10 kicks last year, going 26-for-32 on field goals and 42-for-46 on extra points, with a season long of 47. He's 26 and was San Diego's kicker for two years, with an identical 26/32 line on field goals in 2015.
Mike Nugent: Another experienced option -- after seven years as Bengals' kicker, was signed by the Giants in August, but they opted for Aldrick Rosas instead. He was with the Bucs for four games in 2009, going 2-for-6 on field goals before he was cut. Nugent wasn't sharp last year, going 23-for-29 on field goals and 23-for-29 on extra points.
Andrew Franks: Dolphins cut him in favor of Browns castoff Cody Parkey. Franks is only 24 and was Miami's kicker for two years -- went 16-for-21 on field goals last year with a long of 55, going 41-for-42 on extra points. His rookie year in 2015 was comparable, going 13-for-16 on field goals (long of 53) and 33-for-36 on extra points.
Sam Ficken: Former Penn State kicker is 24, and impressed in preseason with the Chiefs while Santos was injured. Ficken went 4-for-5 on field goals and 6-for-7 on extra points -- his long was only 45, but his only field-goal miss was from 56. He got no looks as a rookie in 2015, was in camp with Jaguars in 2016.
Ross Martin: Second-year kicker from Duke challenged Folk with the Jets in 2016, then nearly replaced Folk this year, losing out to Chander Catanzaro in preseason. He went 4-for-5 in preseason, but his long was only 31 yards; last year, he missed field goals from 39 and 54 yards in preseason before getting cut.
Nick Rose: Former Texas kicker had a solid preseason with the 49ers -- 3-for-4 on field goals with a long of 55. He also got a look from the Falcons in 2016.
Younghoe Koo: Made headlines in winning Chargers job despite only one 27-yard field goal in preseason and going 4-for-4 on extra points. He went 3-for-6 in the regular season, but had one late kick blocked and missed a potential game-winner, so Los Angeles cut him.