Greg Joseph spent four seasons as the starting kicker for Florida Atlantic. He wasn’t spectacular at it, but he kept himself employed.
He finished his career making less than 60% of his field goal attempts from 30+ yards, and barely more than half of his attempts from 40+ yards, but he was still the best kicker in FAU’s short history.
Of course, life is always more about who you know, and after being brought into a group tryout for the Cleveland Browns, he is now their starting kicker heading into their Thursday night game against the New York Jets.
Don’t get me wrong, I support all things G5 and am happy to see Joseph get the opportunity after missing the cut with the Dolphins in the preseason.
My concern is that the reason he has the job is perhaps a bit worrisome for the future of kicking at the professional level.
See, Joseph beat out three other kickers during his tryout, but he got that tryout only after the Browns’ previous kicker Zane Gonzalez missed two extra points and two long field goal attempts on Sunday.
I appreciate that the NFL is a “win now” business, but this is the Cleveland Browns, a team that has only won four of their last fifty games.
For the Browns to take a kicker in Gonzalez – who finished his career as the NCAA all-time leader in field goals made, and who had one bad game in his rookie season – and can him after one bad game in his second season seems a bit quick-triggered to me.
Did he struggle? Sure, but for the Browns to fire their kicker after a game like that is… well, I guess it’s a very Browns thing to do.
But that’s not even the kicker-related-news that has me all triggered. No, that honor goes to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings went to the NFC Championship last season but did so largely in spite of some unreliability in their kicking game.
As a result, the Vikings went out and not only drafted a kicker (that thing you should never ever do in your fantasy draft), they traded up into the fifth round to get him.
That kicker was Daniel Carlson, the guy who would have been the NCAA’s all-time leader in field goals made if it weren’t for Gonzalez.
The Vikings felt so strongly about Carlson that they traded up to get him and then signed him to a four-year, $2.7 million contract.
The Vikings also cut Carlson on Monday.
While the Vikings have a much more recent and sordid history of “what could have been if not for kicking gaffes”, that was supposed to be why they traded up for a three-time Lou Groza award runner-up.
Yet here we are, with Carlson being cut after his first bad performance as a professional in only his fifth professional game.
Carlson went 4-for-6 in the preseason with both misses coming from 42 yards, then made his lone week-one attempt; strong yet unspectacular.
So what happened that got him cut? Two misses from 48 yards and one from 35 yards as time expired on a game that ended in a tie.
I’m no expert, but those first two are no easy kick to make, which would suggest that the Vikings got so spooked by their rookie kicker missing his first professional game-winning field goal that they immediately cut him despite their massive investment in him.
But wait, there’s more!
The kicker who will be replacing him is Dan Bailey, whose name you might recognize as the starting kicker for the Dallas Cowboys for the past six seasons.
Bailey is the second-most accurate kicker in the league, both among active kickers and among all kickers with at least 175 career attempts since 1956.
Bailey also got cut by the Cowboys in the off-season and was out of a job until Carlson’s performance on Sunday.
So let’s run that back for a second.
The Vikings, who had been notorious for their kicking woes, gave up draft picks to move up this summer and select a kicker, who they then signed to a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal, and then cut after his first “bad” game.
They then replaced him with a veteran known as one of the most accurate kickers in the league – who was available because the team that drafted him cut him after his first subpar season.
Meanwhile, the Browns, who are still notorious for their… everything woes, used a late draft pick on the most prolific kicker in NCAA history. They didn’t spend a bunch of draft picks or money on him, but they did cut him after his second bad game of his 1+ season career.
I’m happy for Greg Joseph getting his new job, but I’m concerned at the fickle job market he enters into and can only hope he never makes any mistakes so he can keep his job.