The Bengals don’t have any huge names hitting the market in 2015 like they will in 2016, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have big decisions to make regarding their 2015 free agents who will hit the market. We take a look at possibly the Bengals’ biggest free agent in 2015, Mike Nugent.
Experience: 11 Seasons
2014 Salary Cap Hit: $1.4 Million
If you ask most Bengals fans if they want Mike Nugent back, the majority would probably say ‘No.’ But in the words of Lee Corso, I say “not so fast my friend!”
If you only look at the stats, Mike Nugent had arguably the worst season of his career,certainly of his Bengals career. His 78.8% field goal percentage ranked him 27th in the NFL and was his worst as a Bengal.He also had his lowest field goal percentage since his rookie season (78.6%). His seven misses tied a career high (2007 – New York Jets) and his Week 6 miss in overtime against the Panthers cost the Bengals a win and could have cost them the playoffs.
However, judging Nugent’s 2014 season on his stats alone is deceiving. Nugent got off to a terrible start in 2014, going 6/10 (three misses, one block) through the first two weeks. Through the first five games, Nugent was 11/17 and most Bengals fans, myself included, were calling for his job after he pushed a 36-yard attempt wide at the end of overtime in the Carolina game. But, when you break Nugent’s season down, he really had only one bad game (going 1/4 in Week 2 against Atlanta), one blocked kick (Week 1 against Baltimore) and one memorable miss (Week 6 against Carolina).
After Nugent missed that overtime kick against Carolina, he stood up like a man, took all questions, took the blame, heard the calls for his job and managed to drown it out and bounce back the way you would want your kicker to bounce back. After that kick, Nugent went 16/17 (94.1%), including a franchise record 57-yard field goal in the playoff loss in Indianapolis. Nugent’s only miss after Week 6 was a 50 yarder in Heinz Field, a place where 50+ yard field goals are a rarity at best.
When it comes to the decision on whether or not to re-sign Nugent, you have to consider who is out there to be a replacement, and the answer is not much. The Ravens won’t let Justin Tucker walk and the Patriots tagged Stephen Gostkowski. Outside of those two, there just doesn’t look to be a better kicker. Good kickers are hard to find, that is why you see 40+-year-old kickers still in the NFL. Nugent is not a great kicker, but he is solid kicker and you know what you get with him. He will cost more than a minimum salary kicker, but he won’t be expensive (somewhere in the $1-2 million range). I say the Bengals re-sign Mike Nugent.
What say you Bengals fan?