When Mike Nugent was lost for the season with a calf injury, the Bengals brought in Josh Brown, who made some big kicks. Now both are free agents and the Bengals have to decide who they'll re-sign. According to Pro Football Focus, it should be Nugent.
When it comes to re-signing free agents, the decision of whether to re-sign either kicker Mike Nugent or Josh Brown seems pretty minuscule, especially when compared to re-signing defensive end Michael Johnson and offensive tackle Andre Smith. However, the team needs to have a kicker and both Nugent and Brown played well enough to earn a new contract in 2013. So who's it going to be?
Although his field goal percentage of 84.2% doesn't look great, he was perfect on kicks within 40 yards. While he is not one of the few kickers that is extremely accurate at long kicks, his average kickoff distance of 67.8 yards is the best of the free agent group, and that is a number that stays more consistent than field goal percentage. He is coming off an injury which might be a concern, but since the Bengals liked what they saw from Josh Brown, Nugent might be the most readily available good kicker.
Nugent was perfect on field goals within the 20 yard line (one of one) as well as from 20 to 29 yards out (four of four). He was also perfect from 30 to 39 yards out (five of five). He missed two of seven attempts from 40 to 49 yards out (71.4 percent) and was one of two from 50 yards out or greater (50 percent).
Brown had similar stats. He was perfect from 20 to 29 yards (three of three), as well as from 30 to 39 yards (five of five) and from 40 to 49 yards (four of four). Like Nugent, he was one of two from beyond 50 yards (50 percent). His average kickoff distance was 66.9 yards which is less than a yard shorter than Nugent.
Kicker is obviously an important position and a good kicker can make the difference between a win and a loss (remember Shayne Graham?). This decision doesn't have to be made now, though. The best decision for the team to make now would be to re-sign both kickers and let them battle it out in camp. That way they can kick under pressure and hopefully one will emerge as the better kicker. Picking between them now would be a mistake.
It'll be like Thunderdome: two kickers enter, one kicker leaves.