Nate Kaeding spent much of his career in San Diego as one of the best kickers in all of football, but even the guys on special teams sometimes have to retire from football for health reasons. Kaeding, a two-time Pro Bowler and nine-year NFL veteran, announced his retirement on Thursday (via the Iowa City Press Citizen), citing an aggravating groin injury.
Coming out of Iowa in 2004, Kaeding was a highly regarded kicker that the Chargers drafted with a third-round pick that they had acquired from the New York Giants in the trade centered around Eli Manning for Philip Rivers. Kaeding was instantly one of the better kickers in the NFL, showing accuracy and a strong leg that helped propel him to the 2006 and 2009 Pro Bowl squads. His success was unfortunately followed by some very bad luck.
Kaeding tore his ACL on the first play of the 2011 NFL season and missed the entire season. He came back in 2012 and beat out Nick Novak for the kicking job in San Diego, but a groin injury in Week 4 forced the Chargers to put him on injured reserve before releasing him on Oct. 30. He signed with the Miami Dolphins and went 1-for-3 on field goal attempts over two games.
Kaeding signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last month, but that has come to a sudden halt following his latest injury. His 86.2% career accuracy (181-of-210) is cited as the second-best in NFL history behind Mike Vanderjagt.