The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reshuffled their kicking competition with less than two weeks left before they open up the regular season versus the New Orleans Saints.
On Tuesday, the club announced that it has signed veteran kicker Ryan Succop and released Elliott Fry. Succop takes Fry’s place on the roster and will now directly compete with second-year incumbent kicker Matt Gay for the job in 2020.
Succop signed a minimum one-year deal with Tampa Bay, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, that will pay him just $150,000 in guarantees so there isn’t much financial risk here.
The 33-year-old will have to make quick work proving that he’s a better option than Gay, however, as there are just four days left before Saturday’s roster cuts.
The veteran has 11 seasons in the NFL under his belt and has netted 82.2% of his field goals throughout his career. Injuries derailed his 2019 campaign but he was able to hit 86.7% of his field goals and 90.3% of his extra points during his last full season in the league in 2018.
After coming off of IR in late October last year, Succop appeared in six games before landing back on IR in December.
Over that stretch, he hit one of his six field-goal tries and was 24-of-25 on extra points.
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“I’m looking for consistency on the gimmes,” head coach Bruce Arians stated on Sunday when he was asked about what he’s looking for in a kicker.
“We can’t miss extra points. We can’t give away easy points. Kicks inside the 30-yard line should be automatic. If you can make a 56 yarder, that’s great. But, when we drive the ball down to the 10[-yard line] and miss a field goal, there’s nothing that tears a team more apart on offense than, ‘Hey, we just took the ball down the field and we didn’t get any points.’ So, the ‘gimmes’ – who’s the most consistent? If you can do that and still kick 56, 57[-yard field goals], now you’re All-Pro.”
Arians added on Monday that it’s mildly unsettling that the Buccaneers do not have a stable kicker with the regular season approaching, but said: “Whoever we line up out there, we’re going to have confidence in.”
As for Gay, he converted 77.1% of his field goals during his rookie year after Tampa Bay picked him in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Utah. Gay also hit 89.6% of his extra-point attempt.
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