Cardinals could use a draft pick on a placekicker in 2022

(Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) Jake Moody
(Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) Jake Moody /

The Arizona Cardinals could create an ample amount of salary-cap space by electing to roll with a rookie placekicker in 2022.

Veteran placekicker Matt Prater was good but not great for the Arizona Cardinals in 2021. The 37-year-old flashed his impressive leg strength at times, but his seven missed field goals and two botched extra-point attempts should have been a bit concerning for the Cardinals.

Financially speaking, the Cards can save over $3.5 million in salary-cap space by moving on from Prater in 2022. Money that can be better spent elsewhere by the cap-strapped organization.

There’s one sure-fire way for Arizona to save cash at the placekicker position in 2022. It happens to be a plan that worked just fine for the AFC-champion Cincinnati Bengals this past season.

When it was Cincinnati’s turn to select a prospect during the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Bengals took a chance on a kicker out of the University of Florida. Evan McPherson was spectacular for the team, connecting on 84.8 percent of his field-goal tries during the regular season and converting all 20 of his kicks (14 FGs, 6 PATs) during the playoffs.

What made the acquisition even sweeter was the salary-cap room that Cincy saved by rolling with the youngster. McPherson counted just $745,928 against the cap last fall, which is far less than what the Cardinals were on the hook for with the somewhat disappointing Prater.

Several college placekickers could pique the interest of the Arizona Cardinals

If the Cards want to mimic the success that the Bengals enjoyed last year, there is a bevy of capable kickers who’ll be available during this coming April’s draft. The Redbirds have just five picks to work with at the moment, but the club is projected to receive three compensatory selections for free agents they lost in 2021.

UNLV’s Daniel Gutierrez made good on 16 out of his 18 field-goal attempts last fall, including two out of three from 50-plus yards. Appalachian State’s Chandler Staton booted 20 out of his 21 field-goal tries, and he converted all 57 of his extra-point attempts.

Nick Sciba out of Wake Forest connected on 23 of his 25 FG tries and all 65 of his PAT attempts. The University of Michigan’s Jake Moody knocked 23 out of his 25 field-goal tries through the uprights, and he banged home all 56 of his extra-point attempts.

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The last time that Arizona went with a rookie placekicker was back in 2014 when Clemson University’s Chandler Catanzaro beat out veteran Jay Feely for the job. Perhaps it’s time for the Cardinals to go down that path again in 2022.