Bleeding Green Nation tricked most of you earlier this week with our "Alex Henery contract extension" post as part of an elaborate April Fools' day prank. In order to make up for your hurt feelings, I decided it would only be fair to do a more serious post on Alex Henery and his future with the Eagles. So here we are.
Henery was statistically below average in every category. When it came to kicking field goals, Henery was inaccurate. In field goal attempts that presented a remote challenge (30 yards or further), Henery was only 15-20 (75%). Henery's kickoffs weren't any better. Too often the kickoffs were too short and that allowed opponents to start with better field position.
Common thought heading into this offseason was that the Eagles would look to add competition for Henery. That form of competition didn't come through free agency. A number of veteran free agent kickers were available to sign but the Eagles passed on that opportunity. There were no indications that they even explored the free agent kicker market. This probably shouldn't come as a surprise. The Eagles clearly aren't ready to give up on Henery just yet and signing a free agent kicker to merely "compete" with Henery wasn't realistic.
So what's left now? Without no appealing free agent options left, the Eagles will likely rely on bringing in a kicker through undrafted free agency. These are the top five kickers in the 2014 NFL Draft class as listed by CBS Sports:
Chris Boswell, Rice (5-6)
Anthony Fera, Texas (6)
Cairo Santos, Tulane (7-FA)
Jeff Budzien, Northwestern (7-FA)
Nate Freese, Boston College (7-FA)
And of course there's always BGN staff favorite Kevin Van Voris, who can both kick and punt.
The rookie whom the Eagles bring in to compete against Henery will obviously be at a disadvantage in a kicker battle. It would take a very convincing performance from a rookie to beat out the incumbent Henery. Barring an unexpected performance, it's safe to say Henery will probably be kicking for the Eagles in 2014.
As far as Henery's future with the team beyond this season, well, that's less certain. Henery is currently on the last year of his rookie contract. It's hard to think another below average season would entice the Eagles to offer an extension to the fourth year kicker.
It's always important to remember that Eagles head coach Chip Kelly really cares about special teams. It's not a facet of the game to be taken lightly. The Eagles' signing of special teams players Bryan Braman and Chris Maragos this offseason only enforce this notion. Kelly won't settle at kicker, either. It's up to Henery this season to sink or swim.