For the second time this month, the New England Patriots will need to look for a new kicker.
On Tuesday, the Patriots released veteran kicker Mike Nugent, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. And in his place, the Patriots signed veteran Nick Folk who last played with the Arizona Hotshots of the AAF, according to Ian Rapoport.
Nugent was acquired by New England on October 3 to replace long-time Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski who went on injured reserve. Nugent won a tryout that featured the likes of Kai Forbath, Blair Walsh, and Elliott Fry among others.
In his short stint with the Patriots, Nugent went 5 for 8 kicking field goals including a block and a miss against the Cleveland Browns. He also made 15 of his 16 extra-point attempts, missing only his first one at Washington.
New England’s faith in Nugent waivered as the Patriots consistently attempted to go for it on fourth down rather than boot a field goal of over 40 yards. Nugent wasn’t even handling kickoff duties as that belonged to punter Jake Bailey.
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A Folk Hero?
At 34-years-old, Folk will be getting what could be his final chance to kick at the NFL level. He hasn’t kicked in an NFL game since early in the 2017 season when he was placed on injured reserve following three missed field goals in a 19-14 loss to the Patriots.
Since then, he has stayed fresh kicking in the AAF during the offseason with the Arizona Hotshots. Folk set the record for the longest field goal in league history by nailing a 55-yarder. His career-long in the NFL was a 56-yard field goal.
Folk spent most of his NFL career with the New York Jets but never quite replicated his production from his rookie year in 2007 when he earned a Pro Bowl nod. Excluding his two games with Tampa in 2017, Folk was an 81.3 percent field goal kicker in his career and made 98.8 percent of his extra points.
Will Kicking Woes Cost the Patriots?
The Patriots have been seemingly invincible this season, holding an 8-0 record without much of a threat to that record. The schedule gets tougher down the stretch, and there could be a couple of close games that require some heroics from the kicking unit.
Stephen Gostkowski had been a stable presence for New England in this department, but his injury may end up being the downfall of the Patriots down the line. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith was first to echo this sentiment, doing so the day he was placed on injured reserve.
It’s not a totally unreasonable opinion either. The Patriots won several playoff games on the legs of its kickers Adam Vinatieri and even Gostkowski at times has pitched in with the heroics. Now, New England must place its trust in a rental kicker with minimal playing time if any this season, a less-than-ideal scenario for a Super Bowl contender.