After a few years of uncertainty at the position, it appears as if the Arizona Cardinals have finally found a competent placekicker
Back in 2017, the Arizona Cardinals front office brought one of the most accurate placekickers in NFL history to the desert. Phil Dawson, a veteran of 17 professional seasons at the time, was acquired to add some stability to the position. That plan went awry, however, when Dawson botched 11 field goals and three extra points during his two disappointing campaigns with the Cards.
Arizona was handed an excuse to go in another direction when Dawson suffered a hip injury in November of 2018. Zane Gonzalez, a former Cleveland Browns draft pick who had been signed to the Cardinals practice squad a week before, was the hand-picked replacement. It was a huge opportunity for the former Arizona State University product, and one that Gonzalez was prepared to take full advantage of.
Over the last five matchups of ’18, Gonzalez drilled seven of his nine field-goal attempts directly through the uprights for the Cards. The two misses were somewhat excusable, since both were from beyond 50 yards. The Cardinals were impressed, and decided to bring Gonzalez back in 2019.
That decision turned out to be an excellent one. Gonzalez booted 31 out of 35 field-goal tries, and also connected on 34 of his 35 extra-point attempts last season. The 6’1, 202 pounder’s 127 points scored ranked him fourth-best among kickers in the league in ’19.
At one point last fall, Gonzalez converted an outstanding 22 consecutive field goals for the Cards. The Texas native was also named the NFC’s Special Teams Player of the Month following a superb performance in October.
This past March, Arizona placed a second-round tender on Gonzalez, who entered the offseason as a restricted free agent. A month later, the 25-year old signed a one-year contract with the club that will pay him $3.26 million in 2020. Another successful showing in 2020 may lead to an extension for Gonzalez, and could also be an indication that the Cardinals have finally solved their kicking woes.