Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Patrick Murray beats out Connor Barth as Bucs' kicker

TAMPA — Patrick Murray was watching a movie — appropriately enough titled Lone Survivor — when he got a call Friday from Bucs coach Lovie Smith informing him he had won the kicking job over reliable veteran Connor Barth.

"He informed me that I was the kicker and we are going to win a lot of football games this year," Murray said. "It was great to get that phone call."

The release of Barth ends his remarkable run of consistency with Tampa Bay after five seasons. He simply is the best in franchise history, an 84 percent career field-goal kicker and perfect on all 134 extra points.

Barth, 28, was scheduled to earn $2 million in base salary and $1.15 million in roster bonuses this year. He was attempting a comeback after missing 2013 when he tore the Achilles in his right kicking leg during a charity basketball game just a week before camp. Both kickers were 2-for-2 in field-goal attempts in the preseason.

Murray, 23, was among the first players signed after Smith was hired in January. Two weeks ago, Smith predicted Murray would have a job in the NFL but said he would have to score a knockout over Barth in training camp and preseason.

"There's no doubt that Connor Barth is one of the best kickers in this league and he will land somewhere," Murray said. "He's been a true professional since the first day I met him, and he's really helped me grow not only as a kicker but as a professional. He broke all of Martin Gramatica's records and I hope to do the same with his records and help the Bucs win a lot of football games.''

Barth was among 14 players cut on Friday, a list that included defensive end Larry English and tackle Jamon Meredith, in an effort to get down to the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. today.

An undrafted free agent from Fordham, Murray won the job based on his toughness and versatility. He was an All-America punter and kicker two years ago.

Murray was unable to secure an invitation to an NFL training camp in 2013. He went to rookie minicamp with the Bears last season and had two workouts with the Giants and Bucs before signing with Tampa Bay.

Still, he was a long shot against Barth, who tied for the NFL lead in field goals with 18 of 40 yards or longer in 2012. Smith made it clear that Murray would not start as an equal to Barth, who was given the team's franchise tag in 2012 before he agreed to a four-year, $13.2 million contract two months later.

Smith called releasing Barth a difficult decision. "We appreciate everything Connor has done for the Buccaneers, on and off the field over these past five years, but this decision was based on the best interests of our team moving forward," Smith said.

Barth thanked Bucs fans via Twitter. "Thanks to the bucs and all the fans and my teammates for the best 5 years of my life! It's been one hell of a ride."

At 5 feet 7, Murray is the shortest Buc. Coaches tried to simulate pressure situations in practice and Murray never flinched. "He pushed me just like I pushed him,'' he said of Barth. ''I'm excited for my opportunity."

Born in New Jersey, Murray has an interesting background. He learned to kick during yearly summer vacations to his father Aidan's homeland of Ireland. His family has a long history in Gaelic football, a sport played on a huge field with no passing, the ball advanced by punting and trying to dropkick it through or below uprights situated above a soccer-style goal.

"Mental toughness is the key for a kicker," Murray said. "I thought I performed well in training camp and the preseason, and I'm very thankful to have won the job."

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report. Contact Rick Stroud at

. Fast Facts

Bucs roster moves


DB Marc Anthony

LB Nate Askew

OT Edawn Coughman

CB Kip Edwards

DE T.J. Fatinikun

CB Anthony Gaitor

LB Ka'Lial Glaud

CB Keith Lewis

OL Andrew Miller

FB Lonnie Pryor

OL Jeremiah Warren


K Connor Barth

DE Larry English

OL Jamon Meredith

Patrick Murray beats out Connor Barth as Bucs' kicker 08/29/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 29, 2014 9:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals


    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'


    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.