Zane Gonzalez‘s struggles this season could entice the Arizona Cardinals front office to search for a new placekicker in 2021
The 2020 NFL campaign has been a frustrating one for the placekicker of the Arizona Cardinals. Zane Gonzalez, a former draft pick of the Cleveland Browns, has been far from reliable this season. The 25-year old is now sidelined with a sudden back injury, but one has to wonder if that’s merely an excuse for the Cards to let a more dependable individual handle that extremely important job.
Gonzalez has been replaced by 38-year old Mike Nugent, a journeyman kicker who had been perched on Arizona’s practice squad. Thus far, the results of that move have been encouraging. Last Sunday, Nugent connected on all four of his field-goal tries, and was also perfect on the three extra-point attempts he was asked to convert.
In 12 appearances this fall, Gonzalez has found success on just 16 of his 22 FG attempts. The six misses are alarming when you consider the fact that the former Arizona State University product failed on just four of his 35 three-point tries in 2019. A placekicker’s spot on a roster is rarely etched in stone, and there are several free agents who play that position who the Cardinals could pursue during the upcoming offseason.
The most attractive kicker who’s scheduled to hit free agency in 2021 is Younghoe Koo of the Atlanta Falcons. Heading into week 15, the 26-year old has made good on 33 of his 34 field-goal attempts this year. Koo’s career numbers since he entered the league back in 2018 (59 of 66 FG tries) are even more impressive.
Another potential free agent who the Cards could consider is Randy Bullock, a journeyman who’s currently employed by the Cincinnati Bengals. During the current campaign, the 31-year old veteran has been successful on 21 of his 26 field-goal attempts for the Bengals. In his nine years as a professional, Bullock has knocked 168 of 202 FG tries and 215 of 225 PATs through the uprights.
Nick Folk of the New England Patriots is another placekicker who Arizona could pursue. The former draft selection of the Dallas Cowboys has hit on 21 of his 23 three-point attempts and 26 out of 28 extra-points for the Patriots in ’20. Folk’s career stats include conversions on 280 of his 345 field-goal tries during stints with Dallas, the New York Jets, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England.
One last kicker who the Cardinals could target in free agency is Cairo Santos of the Chicago Bears. The 29-year old has drilled home 21 of his 23 field-goal attempts this season in the “Windy City”. Santos has spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay and the Tennessee Titans as well.