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Bengals roster breakdown, 90-in-90: Jonathan Brown

Can the former soccer star earn a spot in the NFL?

When the 2016 season ended, the Cincinnati Bengals didn’t have a kicker under contract for 2017. That was, until the team signed Jonathan Brown to a Reserve/Future contract, giving the former soccer prodigy a chance to kick footballs for a living.

But what are his chances of actually making the final roster, and where is his place in what’s now become a crowded kicker group in Cincinnati?

Jonathan Brown

College: Louisville

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 197 pounds

Hometown: Clinton, Miss.

Experience: First-year player in 2017.

Cap Status

If Brown makes the Bengals’ 53-man roster, he will make $465,000 in 2017, according to Spotrac. There will be no dead cap if he’s waived. If he makes the roster, Brown will be an exclusive rights free agent in 2018.


A first-year NFL player for 2017, Brown originally joined the Bengals in May 2016 as a college free agent. He suffered an injury in spring workouts, reverted to the team’s Reserve/Injured list after being waived-injured, and was released from there on Aug. 30 after completing rehab.

A soccer standout who started his college career at Kentucky before transferring to Louisville, Brown went from being a soccer scholarship player for the Cardinals to taking a shot as a walk-on for the football team as a kicker. He is still a bit of a mystery after being a backup behind starting kicker John Wallace and rarely seeing the field in college, let alone the NFL.

Per the school's website, Brown had one kickoff for 65 yards but never attempted a field goal. He also hasn’t attempted a kick in as much as an NFL preseason game.

Roster Odds

As of now, Brown is the third kicker in the pecking order behind veteran Randy Bullock and fifth-round rookie Jake Elliott. Bullock ended the 2016 season as Cincinnati’s kicker, and he has far more experience kicking in the NFL than Brown.

But Elliott is widely expected to win this job after he was the first kicker drafted this year. Even so, the Bengals are wise to have some competition at this position with no clear-cut guy in the fold after enduring a season of Mike Nugent’s woes.

Saying this, don’t expect Brown to make the final roster, and he’s a longshot just to make the practice squad.

Roster Odds: 0.7 percent.

Be sure to read Connor’s great writeup on Brown’s journey from soccer to the NFL.