The trading/free agent signing period is fast approaching, so thefront office will have to decide who they plan to pursue come March 5th. Over the next few weeks at BGN, we will be taking a position-by-position look at who we could see in an uniform come training camp. Today's position? Kickers.
After David Akers' stellar season in which he led the NFC in scoring with 139 points, it's hard to imagine the Eagles bringing in anything more than a "camp leg" this offseason. Even at 35, Akers keeps in tip top shape and should have no problem keeping his job in Philadelphia for several seasons to come. Nevertheless, there are a few options in the free agent market should the Eagles want to bring in a challenger.
Neil Rackers (UFA): At 33, the Cardinals Pro Bowl kicker is probably one of the best UFAs available this year. He is coming off of a season where he made 94% of his field goals and 97% of his extra points (one blocked). He has great distance on his kicks and has no problem sacrificing himself as a tackler on kickoff returns. However, he has been known to become rattled when the game is on the line and has a history of injury (likely stemming from his kickoff tackles). It's highly unlikely that the Eagles will go this route barring crazy series of events.
Jay Feely (UFA): Big mouth aside, the 33 year old Feely still can perform as a starting kicker in the NFL. He came in 3rd in the NFL in field goals made during the 2009 season, nailing 30 of his 36 attempts (including a 55 yard bomb against his old team the Dolphins). The former Pro Bowler has also proven he can punt as well, filling in for Steve Weatherford during the wildcard game and pinning the Bengals inside their own 20 three times. Still, Feely appears to be on his way out with the Jets, who recently signed ex-Cowboy kicker Nick Folk, so chances are Feely will be kicking for another team in 2010.
Mike Nugent (UFA): Nugent is still young in terms of NFL kicker years, and as a result has been known to make young player mistakes and struggle with his consistency. He possesses the tools to be a solid kickoff specialist, but has yet to garner enough playing time to accurately demonstrate it. If the Eagles decide to take a low-cost gamble, there is a chance that new special teams coach Bobby April could mold Nugent into a starting-quality kicker.
Other Available Free Agents:
- Stephen Gostkowski (RFA)
- Shayne Graham (UFA)
- Shaun Suisham (RFA)
- Jason Elam (UFA)
- Matt Stover (UFA)
- John Carney (UFA)
- Billy Cundiff (RFA)
In the next installment, we will be taking a look at punters. Feel free to leave any suggestions on who to examine in the comments section. For more information on unrestricted vs. restricted free agents in a potentially uncapped year, check out this great article over at Mocking The Draft.