Are the New England Patriots set at kicker and punter? Most would assume they are with solid performers like Nick Folk and Jake Bailey in place, but a recent group of players in Foxborough for tryouts will likely cause some to have questions.
Per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, the Patriots hosted three kickers and a punter for tryouts on Friday.
One of the kickers is former Miami Hurricanes star, Lou Groza award winner and unanimous All-American Jose Borregales.
Along with Borregales, the other players working out for the Patriots on Friday were punter Cameron Dicker (Texas), kicker Dominik Eberle (Utah State), and kicker Brian Johnson (Virginia Tech). Eberle is already 26 years old, while the others don’t initially appear to be serious threats to claim a spot on the Patriots roster.
Is Nick Folk’s Job Safe?
The quick answer to this question is: about as safe as any solid kicker’s job in the NFL. The kicker is easily the most volatile position in football, so one must take a grain of salt with any statement of stability related to the role.
Folk has been lights out for the Patriots for the last two years. Folk has had a .925 accuracy rate in the last two seasons. That includes nailing 7 of his 11 attempts at field goals from 50 yards or further.
However, Folk is going to be 38 in November, so there is a question about him sustaining the level of play he’s shown the last two years. If Folk has another year in 2022 as he did in 2020 and 2021, no other kicker we see the field for the Patriots in 2022.
If Folk shows some slippage, Bill Belichick and Co. must be prepared with potential replacements. For the last two years, the Patriots have carried a kicker on their practice squad in the event of injury or a dip in play from Folk.
In 2020, it was rookie bust Justin Rohrwasser on the practice squad. In 2021, it was the power-legged but inconsistent Quinn Nordin. Folk outkicked both Rohrwasser and Nordin in training camp to keep his job both years but didn’t have much competition on that front this season–though the Patriots did have Tristan Vizcaino in camp through the preseason.
Borregales would appear to be the guy with the best chance to land the practice squad role of this bunch.
A Closer Look at Jose Borregales
The 24-year-old Venezuelan was regarded as the No. 1 kicker in college football in 2020. He made 20 of 22 field goal attempts while registering 100% accuracy on extra-point attempts in 37 tries for the Miami Hurricanes.
Borregales’ performance in college earned him first-team All-American status and landed him a spot in the Senior Bowl. He went undrafted but signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent.
Borregales spent his entire rookie season on the Bucs’ practice squad, but Tampa Bay released him as one of their final cuts to get down to the 53-man limit. The Patriots are just one of what should be many teams giving Borregales a look after such a strong collegiate career.