That’s how The Athletic’s Zac Jackson sees it. Jackson floated the trade idea of the Patriots sending kicker Nick Folk, a 2007 Pro Bowler, to the Browns for draft capital.
“My guess is Cleveland tries to add a veteran kicker either via waivers or by trading a late-round draft pick to New England for Nick Folk,” Jackson wrote.
Ryland made Folk, 38, a possible cut candidate though Folk took on most of the place kicking duties in the preseason. While the Patriots will need to make cuts to get the roster down to 53 players by Tuesday afternoon, head coach Bill Belichick didn’t rule out two kickers.
“Yeah, we had two kickers last year on the roster for one game. Again, there’s a number of things to consider when you look at the whole roster makeup,” Belichick told the media on August 26.
Nick Folk and Chad Ryland Had a Strong Competition
Belichick said the staff will “do what we feel is best for the team” and noted that the competition between Ryland and Folk has been solid. Folk went 3-3 on extra points and 2-2 on field goals in the preseason while Ryland went 1-1 on extra points in the finale on August 25. Ryland meanwhile kicked off seven times and tallied two touchbacks while Folk only kicked off twice.
“They’ve both had really good camps, so that’s a pretty tight competition,” Belichick said.
Folk signed with the Patriots in 2019, and he remained a steady performer over the past three seasons. He made 89.3% of his field goals, going 108-121 in that span. He also hit 91.3% of his extra points, going 116 for 127.
Ryland hit 77.3% of his field goals, 75 for 97, in college between stints at Maryland and Eastern Michigan. He also made 97.3% of his extra points with a 180-185 mark.
If the Patriots ship Folk to the Browns, it would mark his fifth destination in his 15-year NFL career. Folk notably worked out with the Browns in 2020 as a free agent before he re-signed with the Patriots.
Patriots Still Have Two Punters
New England also has two punters on the roster at the moment — Bryce Baringer and Corliss Waitman. The Patriots drafted Baringer in the sixth round of this year’s draft, and Watiman looks to crack the Patriots’ roster in his second stint with the team.
“Same thing with the punter situation, Corliss had two huge punts last night, one out of the end zone, so we’ll see how that goes,” Belichick said. “It looks like we’ve got a very good competition at both of those spots.”
Baringer punted for Michigan State and averaged 46 yards per punt in his college career. Waitman posted 46.6 yards per punt with the Denver Broncos last season, and he averaged 52.1 yards with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021.
An undrafted free agent, Waitman signed with the Steelers originally in 2020 for the practice squad, but the team waived him in 2021. Waitman then had short stints with the Las Vegas Raiders and Patriots in 2021 before the Steelers picked him up from the Patriots practice squad.