One of the least talked about positions with the Bengals during the dawn of this year's free agency, is what will the Bengals do for place kickers. After the Bengals signed Dave Rayner in mid-February, speculation was that the Bengals would be letting Shayne Graham leave Cincinnati after missing two field goals in the team's Wild Card loss. Still, the Bengals allowed that the team could bring Shayne Graham back, provided it's a team-friendly deal. While it sounds like the Bengals would sacrifice performance and, you know, the ability to make field goals in clutch situations, I believe that the Bengals leaving open the possibility of Graham returning was a way for Bengals to not lose face by coming off prickish to Graham in the media. I think a chance for his return is next to nil.
Much like wide receivers, the situation at place kicker is on life support. No, I don't think Dave Rayner is the answer. I think he's steward of place kickers, holding the fort until the Bengals sign someone that's more long-term. Will it happen through free agency?
Of the 12 kickers scheduled for free agency (as shown on NFL.com), two were tagged (Seattle's Olindo Mare and Pittsburgh's Jeff Reed), six are restricted free agents and four are unrestricted. Of the restricted free agents, the good kickers were tendered and the rest were guys that you could probably sign off the streets in December.
|Jay Feely||UFA||Jets||Wants to return to New York.|
|Matt Stover||UFA||Colts||Likely to retire|
|Shane Andrus||RFA||49ers||49ers have exclusive rights.|
|Rhys Lloyd||RFA||Panthers||Panthers didn't tender. Mostly a kickoff specialist.|
|Billy Cundiff||RFA||Ravens||Given low tender.|
|Stephen Gostkowski||RFA||Patriots||Given second-round tender.|
|Ricky Schmidt||RFA||49ers||Off the street type of kicker.|
|Shaun Suisham||RFA||Cowboys||Not give tender.|
|Dan Carpenter||RFA||Dolphins||Dolphins have exclusive rights. Made Pro Bowl as replacement.|
There are players like Mike Nugent missing from the list, which makes me believe that others are missing. Nugent was released by the Arizona Cardinals in January.
After observing the list, it makes you think that the Bengals could be better off using the draft, or that period after the draft where players are signed as undrafted free agents, to find a suitable replacement, if not a long-term solution. Guys like Alabama's Leigh Tiffin, Michigan State's Brett Swenson, Ohio State's Aaron Pettrey and Texas' Hunter Lawrence will be available during the draft.
Does it seem likely that Cincinnati would draft a kicker or do you think they should sign someone in free agency?