The Bengals have a clear issue at kicker.
Long-time veteran Mike Nugent is having a season to forget, and after the last two weeks, this season is arguably becoming his worst in Bengals stripes. Last week against Washington, Nugent missed an extra point and a 51-yard field-goal attempt that wasn’t even close.
That came after he missed two field-goal attempts the previous week versus the Browns. On the season, Nugent is making 73.7 percent of his kicks and 94.4 percent of his extra points. That field goal percentage ranks among the bottom five kickers in the NFL, and it’s time for Cincinnati to look at making a change.
The bad news is, the free agent market is pretty dry when it comes to quality kickers who would be an upgrade over Nugent. Garrett Hartley is a veteran who's made plenty of big kicks in his career, but has been too erratic to feel good about.
Some of notable names on the market include Kai Forbath and Randy Bullock, two experienced guys who’ve hit 84 and 80 percent of their kicks respectively. Both have bounced around the league in recent years.
Other than them, there are several kickers who went undrafted in this year's NFL Draft, signed with teams but have since been waived. Former Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan would make the most sense given the Bengals' Bulldogs pipeline. Morgan finished his college career ranking third all-time at UGA and in the SEC in scoring with 407 points.
Former Bengals kicker Tom Obarski, who spent 2015 on Cincinnati’s practice squad, is still on the market. If the Bengals liked what they saw from him last year, they could try to bring him back. The same goes for Zach Hocker who spent the 2016 offseason with the Bengals but was released before final cuts this year and is now a free agent.
But the best kicker on the market is probably Travis Coons, who kicked 28 field goals in the 2015 season, which is the fourth most in a single season in Cleveland history, behind Phil Dawson (30 in 2008, 29 in 2012) and Matt Stover (29 in 1995).
The Browns ended up waiving Coons during final cuts this season, even though he missed just four field goals and two extra points last year as a first-year player. He’s young, has experienced, and did well in a horrible situation last year, so maybe the Bengals should give him a workout.
Here is a look at all of the notable free agent kickers:
1. Travis Coons, 24, 2nd season.
1. Garrett Hartley, 30, 8th season.
2. Kai Forbath, 29, 5th season.
3. Randy Bullock, 26, 5th season.
4. Brad Craddock, 24, rookie.
5. Kyle Brindza, 23, 2nd season.
6. Nick Rose, 22, rookie.
7. Josh Scobee, 34, 12th season.
8. Tom Obarski, 23, 2nd season.
9. Marshall Morgan, 22, rookie.
10. Carey Spear, 24, 2nd season.