The Cleveland Browns have not sounded too convinced about kicker Chase McLaughlin being their starter when Week 1 rolls around and the team put him on notice with the signing of former Jets kicker Chris Naggar on Thursday.
The Browns added Naggar to their practice squad but the next week will likely be an audition for the starting gig. Naggar is an undrafted free agent that signed to the New York Jets out of SMU. He began his collegiate career at Texas before transferring to SMU for his redshirt senior season. He was the AAC Special Teams Player of the Year, making 17 of his 21 field goal and 43 of 46 extra points (93.5) last season.
Naggar has quite the leg, too. He posted a video on social media hitting from 70 yards, albeit it was with no rush.
An interesting wrinkle is that Naggar was signed by the Jets last year, which led to McLaughlin being cut and then picked up by the Browns. Naggar was waived by the Jets in mid-August after going 1-of-2 on his field goal attempts.
The Browns worked out four kickers on Thursday, the other three being Alex Kessman, Tyler Rausa and Matthew Wright. Naggar impressed, making 11 of his 13 kicks, per Brad Stainbrook.
Browns Haven’t Been Convinced by McLaughlin
McLaughlin was the only kicker on the Browns roster for about a week after incumbent starter Cody Parkey went on injured reserve and was later waived by the team. However, McLaughlin hardly inspired confidence in the team’s final preseason game, doinking a 56-yard kick off the uprights and shanking a PAT badly.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski acknowledged the 56-yard kick before half was tough but he wanted to see how McLaughlin responded to the challenge.
“I think it’s a pretty cut and dry — it’s a make or miss league,” Stefanski told reporters after the game. “That’s not easy. It’s a challenging kick and we wanted to give him a swing at it.”
Stefanski was asked specifically about McLaughlin after the 53-man roster was announced and kept it vague.
“I do not know that I have a message for any of our players really. It is show up and work for all of our guy,” Stefanski said. “They just have to continue to get better.”
Browns Continue to Build Out Practice Squad
The Browns have continued to build out their practice squad after cutting down the roster. Some faces are familiar, returning ones, while others are new.
The latest signing along with Naggar was offensive tackle Jordan Steckler. He was originally signed with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2020 from Northern Illinois. After spending the 2020 offseason with the Saints, he later served time on the New England Patriots’ practice squad for the second half of the season.
The most high profile signing by the Browns since the roster was cut down was quarterback Nick Mullens. Mullens started 16 games with the 49ers from 2018 to 2020, notching a 87.2 career passer rating. He’s 2-6 as a starter with 2437 yards, 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
He’ll sit behind Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum on the practice squad. Kyle Lauletta, who was with the Browns in the preseason, recently signed with Jacksonville.