POSITION (2): Mike Nugent, Quinn Sharp
Quinn Sharp (UDFA, Oklahoma State)
Josh Brown (FA, New York Giants)
Mike Nugent played under the franchise contract in 2012, but injured his calf during practice on December 5th. Josh Brown, who was signed the day after Nugent's injury, finished the season as the Bengals place kicker, converting 11 of 12 field goals. The only field goal Brown missed was a 56-yarder against Pittsburgh, the very team that he kicked a game-winning 43-yard field goal against, which clinched a playoff spot for Cincinnati in Week 16.
But Josh Brown is now with the Giants, and Mike Nugent signed a two-year deal with Cincinnati. Maybe it was familiarity with Nugent; the cost of keeping Nugent versus Brown; Mike Brown's perceived loyalty to an Ohio State alum; or maybe it was all of the above.
Nugent converted 19 of 23 field goals in 2012 before his injury. He has an 81 percent conversion rate in his career and slightly more than that as a Bengal (83). Not only have the Bengals locked up Nugent for the next two seasons, but he currently doesn't have much competition heading into training camp. The only kicker that Nugent might be sharing snaps with on the practice field is undrafted free agent Quinn Sharp, but even that might be just to give Nugent days off.
Quinn Sharp is sort of an all-purpose kicker. He handled kickoffs, punts, and field goal attempts while at Oklahoma State. He's more than just a "Jack of all trades, master of none." Sharp seems to excel at whatever is asked of him - at least at the collegiate level. He was already featured in our Punters feature for training camp, but when looking at his experience as a place kicker, Sharp converted 84 percent (50/59) of his field goals over two years.
There's always a chance that the Bengals bring another kicker into training camp to compete with Nugent, but it seems likely that Nugent holds onto his job for 2013. If Nugent is the man moving forward, the expectation is that Nugent can remain healthy.
He's only played one full season in the past three years with Cincinnati, and the Bengals won't be fortunate enough to find a kicker like Josh Brown whenever Nugent is placed on the Injured Reserve. Avoiding injuries, converting field goals, and converting them when the game (or season) is on the line is what every team wants from their place kicker. We'll be watching training camp closely next week, and place kicker should be no exception.