DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18: Place kicker Mike Nugent #2 of the Cincinnati Bengals watches his 45 yard field goal against the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
+ There's any number of reasons why the Cincinnati Bengals failed to secure place-kicker Mike Nugent to a long-term deal. An ACL injury in 2010 is keeping the team skeptical, or perhaps the front office wants another year like 2011 to feel comfortable enough to fully invest in Nugent long-term. Not that anyone is sneezing at a $2.546 million contract for a place-kicker.
It may have been the contracts signed by Matt Prater (four-year, $13 million) and Connor Barth (four-year, $13.2 million), and a hope that Nugent would get something similar, stalling overall negotiations between the Bengals and Nugent. Len Pasquarelli wrote in late June that Barth's contract actually offers a problem because Barth doesn't actually handle kickoff duties like, say, Mike Nugent.
But the contract, through no fault of Barth, is causing a few problems in negotiations for the four other kickers who were designated by their teams as franchise players. That's because Barth, who has developed into one of the NFL's most consistent kickers the last couple seasons, doesn't handle the kickoff duties for the Bucs.
Place-kicker Josh Scobee, who also handles kickoff duties, agreed to terms with the Jacksonville Jaguars worth $13.8 million over four years just prior to the deadline.
Nugent converted 33 of 38 field goals last season while besting Shayne Graham's franchise record, scoring 132 points. But just as impressively, as Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer notes, Nugent's kickoffs benefited the Bengals in more ways than one.
Of Nugent’s 80 kickoffs, 67 reached the end zone and 36 were touchbacks, which is a big reason why the Bengals coverage team was ranked first in average field position of the 20.3 yard line.
Perhaps the Cincinnati Bengals aren't willing to surpass Prater and Barth's contracts, both of whom were tagged as franchise players earlier this year. Additionally the Bengals may not be willing to offer a contract north of $3 million a season for a kicker. Then again. In 2003 Cincinnati signed Shayne Graham to a five-year deal worth $6.5 million with a $2 million signing bonus and an annual salary that made him the sixth-highest paid kicker in the NFL.
One may understand Nugent's bargaining position, the reasoning for his agent demanding a little more money than what Barth signed with Tampa Bay earlier this year. Either way he'll be with the team in 2012 and if the two sides want to sign a long-term deal, they'll have to wait until the offseason next year -- preferably a week after winning the Super Bowl (just saying).
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