2016 was a rough year for former Cincinnati Bengals kicker Mike Nugent. In total, he missed six of his 29 field goal attempts and six of his 29 extra point attempts. In both cases, that is a success rate of 79.3 percent - an absolutely abysmal rate for an NFL caliber kicker and, by far, the worst of his career.
In fairness, it’s probably really difficult to have the same make-rate for both field goals and extra points at the NFL level... Unless you’re perfect and that rate is 100%, which would still be difficult.
The Bengals made an effort to stick by Nugent through his rough patch last season, but eventually the team realized it wasn’t coming to an end any time soon and released him after Week 14. At 35-years-old, retiring from the NFL would seem to be his next logical step, especially considering the tape potentially interested teams will be looking at. But, Nugent says he isn’t anywhere close to considering retirement.
"I have got 12 years in, but my goal has always been 20 so I still have eight to go," Nugent told James Grega Jr. of Buckeye Sports. "I am absolutely looking forward to the next opportunity to keep going and hopefully with my next team, I will spend eight years. That would be amazing."
Nugent’s commitment to continuing to play beyond his career with the Bengals is admirable. In fairness, he spent the first four years of his career with the New York Jets, and 2009 between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals. So, changing teams is something with which he has plenty of experience. That, in particular, shouldn’t affect his ability to keep going. But, perhaps his source of motivation will be different. If you ask him, he will tell you he already lived his NFL dream by playing for his favorite team when growing up.
"I grew up cheering for (the Bengals) as a kid. I think my parents had season tickets for about 20-25 years," Nugent said. "When I got the call in February or March of 2010 and my agent told me the Bengals wanted to work me out, it was honestly a dream come true. I got to play for the team I grew up cheering for. It was so much fun to be able to play for them and I was treated amazing."
In eight seasons with the Bengals, Nugent put up 157 field goals on 192 tries and 344 extra points on 355 tries. Until recently, he was one of the Bengals’ most reliable kickers in franchise history and one of the most beloved and appreciated players on the team. Unfortunately, he had been in a bit of a funk since a rough 2014 season and he never really seemed to come out of it, culminating in an abysmal 2016 season.
But, for a long time he was a great Bengals kicker who should be remembered more for his accomplishments than his shortcomings. He holds the record for the most field goals made in a single season (33) and shares the team record for longest regular-season field goals (55 yards). Hopefully Nugent can continue having a prosperous career with his next team, though, it’s not going to be the Bengals.
For now, Nugent remains a free agent.