Ready to move on? Jets Nick Folk will compete with Roberto Aguayo for Bucs kicking job
The Bucs over-drafted Florida State place-kicker Roberto Aguayo last year, selecting him in the second round. He felt the pressure. One of the most accurate kickers in college history made only 71 percent of his field goal attempts (22-of-31), the worst in the league.
“Read the stats, he wasn’t very good last year,’’ Bucs general manager Jason Licht said. “He wants to improve and he’s going to work at it. And we still have confidence in him but you’re always trying to get better.’’
Keeping their promise to make Aguayo compete for his job in 2017, the Bucs are signing Jets free agent Nick Folk. The signing was first reported by FoxSports.com.
Folk, 32, connected on 27 of 31 field goal attempts (87.1 percent) last season for the Jets. Three of his four misses were the result of blocks. In 10 seasons with the Cowboys and Jets, Folk has made 81.3 percent of his field goal attempts.
Both Licht and Bucs coach Dirk Koetter have vowed to replace Aguayo in 2017 unless he is the best kicker in training camp and the preseason. Speaking not specifically about Aguayo, Licht is on record having said he isn’t afraid to cut his losses if a player doesn’t perform.
“The mistake would be to be prideful,’’ Licht said. “That’s the bigger mistake.’’
Aguayo was the highest-drafted place-kicker in a decade. But he struggled from the outset. He missed six of his first 11 field goal attempts and an extra point in his first six pro games. Aguayo did not make a field goal longer than 43 yards last season and that came in the regular season opener at Atlanta.
“He’s a rookie. He’s 21 years old,’’ Licht said. “He had to learn that he’s not doing this for fun anymore. He’s got a lot of people depending on him.’’
Folk has a strong leg and is 23-of-39 on field goal attempts 50 yards or longer, including a career long of 56.
Licht hinted strongly following the season that Aguayo would face veteran competition. “Or he’ll be competition for somebody else,’’ he said.