The Bengals have released kicker Mike Nugent following weeks of horrible play for the 11 year NFL veteran. This follows Nugent missing extra points in four straight games and five of the last six games.
This season, Nugent has made 23 of 29 field goal attempts and interestingly, 23 of 29 extra point attempts. Extra points have been the big issue for Nugent and the Bengals tolerated it for far too long. Nugent
Nugent has spent six years with the Bengals after being drafted by the New York Jets in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Nugent passed the 1,000-point mark for his NFL career (now at 1,052) this season. His 132 points and 33 field goals in 2011 are Bengals season records, and he shares the team mark for longest regular-season field goal (55 yards).
Unfortunately, this season Nugent failed to make one kick from further out than 47 yards and was 0/3 on 50+ yard attempts.
“Mike is a tremendous teammate and has been an integral part of the Bengals for seven seasons,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “This was a difficult decision, but one we felt was in the best interest of the football team moving forward. We have enjoyed getting to know Mike over the years and wish him the best.”
Nugent's 79.3% field goal percentage this season ranks 24th in the league and his extra point percentage ranks 31st, ahead of only that of the Vikings kickers' combined records. The Vikings released kicker Blair Walsh earlier this season due to his poor play, which included four missed extra points (15/19). The Bengals’ leash on Nugent was longer than that, but the road in Cincinnati ends here for Nugent.
Instead of experimenting with a young kicker with a high ceiling, the Bengals have instead claimed Randy Bullock off waivers. Bullock was just released by the Steelers on Monday. Bullock has five years of NFL experience, mostly with the Texans and Jets but also with the Giants and Steelers for one game each.
Bullock is 78/96 on all-time field goal attempts and 91/95 on extra point attempts. He did miss an extra point in the one game he played for the Giants this season, which was a Week 1 game when Josh Brown was suspended.
Bullock has spent the last two weeks with the Steelers, as a replacement for injured kicker Chris Boswell. Bullock was three-for-three on field goals for the Steelers (44, 34, 38 yards) and made his only PAT try. With Boswell having returned to action on December 11 at Buffalo, Bullock didn’t play in Week 14 and was no longer needed in Pittsburgh.
Bullock entered the NFL in 2012 as a fifth-round draft pick by Houston. He spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve but kicked for the Texans in every game in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, he opened with Houston, kicking in three games, and later signed with the Jets, kicking in their final eight games. He had two game-winning field goals for Jets in 2015, a 31 yarder in overtime in a 23-20 win at the Giants and a 40 yard game-winner at 0:36 for a 19-16 win at Dallas. He became a free agent after the 2015 season and signed with the Giants during the 2016 preseason.
This seems like strange timing to part with Nugent, the Bengals’ veteran kicker. He has been struggling for weeks and his issues were well documented. But, it seems the Bengals felt it was best to release him now and try their luck with a new body for the final three weeks of the 2016 NFL season.
The Bengals play the Steelers on Sunday and it will be Bullock who’s active for Cincinnati at the kicker position and facing the team that just released him.
We wish Nugent the best of luck moving forward; he had some great moments in Cincinnati, including a 2015 overtime game-winning field goal against the Seahawks that brought the Bengals to 5-0 on the season, at the time. But, his struggles this season were too significant for the Bengals to continue to ignore.
Now, we’ll see what Bullock can do for Cincinnati in the next three weeks.