Tampa Bay’s circus of kickers has lost its latest ringmaster. The Buccaneers agreed to terms with Patrick Murray, the team announced on Monday. Veteran kicker Nick Folk, who missed all three of his field goal attempts in the team’s 19-14 loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday night, will be placed on injured reserve.
The Buccaneers will give Folk a minor designation on IR, which means the team has to release him once he’s healthy, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The move comes a week after Folk nailed the game-winning field goal as time expired against the New York Giants, a game in which he also missed two field goals and an extra point attempt. But his costly performance against the Patriots was the Bucs’ final straw.
“There was no real indication that was coming,” Koetter said after the loss to the Patriots, via Rapoport. “We only kicked live one day in practice this week, and Nick was lights out. So again, these last two weeks haven’t been exactly what we’re looking for.”
Just two months ago, the team cut former prized prospect Roberto Aguayo. Aguayo was so valued by the Bucs that the franchise traded up to select him in the second round of the 2016 draft. Despite being the highest-selected kicker since Mike Nugent in 2005, his tenure in Tampa was unimpressive.
Aguayo made just 71 percent of his field goals, including a dismal 4-of-11 mark from 40 yards or deeper as a rookie. A disappointing performance in training camp and preseason sealed his fate and looked to have handed the job to Folk.
Folk wasn’t much better in the preseason, but he did just enough to win the starting job. He finished August having made 6 of 7 field goal attempts and missing his only extra point try.
Once the season started, Folk struggled even more. He missed almost half of his attempts, going just 6 of 11 on field goals and 7 of 9 on extra points.
The Buccaneers will have to try to find some kind of consistency at a position that seems almost cursed. They haven’t had a kicker who has lasted more than one season since Connor Barth’s first stint with the team, from 2008-12. In that time, they’ve trotted out Rian Lindell (2013), Patrick Murray (2014), Kyle Brindza (2015), Barth again (2015), Aguayo (2016), and Folk (2017).
They have the worst field goal percentage in the NFL since then by a wide margin, just 74.1 percent. In the past two seasons alone, the Bucs have hit only 28 of 42 field goal attempts, or a paltry 66.7 percent.
Murray has spent time with the Saints and the Browns. When he played for the Buccaneers in 2014, he made 20 of 24 field goal attempts.