After suffering through Mike Nugent’s decline as an NFL kicker and his penchant for missing extra point attempts, the Cincinnati Bengals finally moved on with the signing of journeyman veteran Randy Bullock in Week 15 of the 2016 NFL season. The team actually wanted to sign him before then, but dragged their feet so long with Nugent, they missed out when the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Bullock briefly during the 2016 season. Last year, Bullock had his highest field goal accuracy of any season in the NFL or in college, making just under 90% of his kick - although it was a small sample size of only nine field goal attempts. Will that be enough to keep in on the Bengals’ roster in 2017 with added competition?
Weight: 206 pounds
College: Texas A&M
Hometown: Klein, TX
Experience: 6th year player
Bullock signed a two-year $1.565 million contract with the Bengals this offseason, which pays him $775,000 this season, and $790,000 next season. Per Spotrac, he carries a $775,000 cap hit for the 2017 season but has no dead money attached to his deal and can be cut with no repercussion for Cincinnati.
Heading into his senior season at Texas A&M, Bullock wasn’t a very impressive prospect, having only made 70 percent of his field goal attempts during the prior two seasons, and only having two kicks of 50 yards to his credit (both exactly at 50 yards). But much like Zane Gonzalez this year, Bullock turned himself into a prospect behind a very good senior year, which saw him make 29 of 33 kicks, although only one of them came from 50 yards.
The Texans made Bullock the top kicker drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft and anointed him their future starter before a preseason injury ended his rookie year. Bullock struggled in his second season, making only 26 of 35 field goals (74.3%). His third season with the Texans was much better, as he made 30 of 35 field goal attempts, for a solid 85.7 percent accuracy rate, and made all 40 of his extra point attempts. His fourth season only lasted four games with the Texans, who cut him loose after only making three of five extra point attempts, and making five of six field goals to start the year.
The New York Jets then signed him for the final eight games of the 2015 season and watched him make 14 of 17 field goals (82.4%). He began 2016 with the other New York team, the Giants, but that only lasted one week, as he was filling in for their then-starter Josh Brown, who was suspended for Week 1. Bullock missed an extra point in that tight 20-19 win over the Cowboys. Three months later, the Steelers signed Bullock, but that lasted only two games, before their starter returned from injury and he was let go. The Bengals became Bullock’s third team in 2016 when he played the final three games for Cincinnati, making all six of his extra points, and five of his six field goal attempts - missing what would have been the game-winner against the Texans in Week 16.
Bullock doesn’t carry a strong track record as a reliable kicker, nor as a strong-legged kicker. He still managed to earn a two-year contract with the Bengals in the offseason and was actually the team’s first free agent signing of the year. But, Bullock’s future with the Bengals quickly became much less stable when the team selected Jake Elliott in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Since the turn of the century, only three of the 36 kickers drafted in the NFL Draft failed to ever attempt an NFL kick. The last time it happened to a kicker drafted in the fifth round was was back in 2001 when the Giants reached for John Markham, who failed to make 70 percent of his field goal attempts and failed to make 90 percent of his extra point attempts with Vanderbilt. Elliott is no Markham, and those odds sure don’t look good for a frequently cut journeyman trying to beat out the first kicker drafted in 2017.
The best thing going for Bullock is the Bengals love to hang on to mediocre veterans, but since they are only likely to carry one kicker, and it’s highly improbable to see them cut their fifth round pick before the season starts, Bullock is facing a rather difficult obstacle of retaining employment. He will mostly likely be looking for his sixth address in as many seasons come September.
Roster Odds: 15 percent