Over his eleven-year career, Buffalo Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka has been among the game’s most consistent field goal kickers. Coming into the 2018 season, he had converted at least 83% of his field goals in every season since 2010. He was well on his way to doing so again before suffering an injury on a blindside hit.
As the team looks to take the next step towards building a legitimate contender in 2019 and beyond, continued consistency and reliability from their kicking game will be something that the team needs. In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile the veteran kicker looking to ensure that very consistency.
Name: Stephen Hauschka
Height/Weight: 6’4” 210 lbs.
Age: 34 (35 on 6/29/20)
Experience/Draft: 12; signed as undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings following the 2008 NFL Draft
College: Middlebury (VT) and NC State
Acquired: Signed as unrestricted free agent on 3/9/17
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Hauschka enters the final year of a three-year deal he signed with Buffalo in 2017. The total worth of the contract is $8,850,000. For 2019, his salary cap hit is $3.25 million, and if the team were to cut him, they would be on the hook for a dead cap charge of $1.25 million.
2018 Recap: Through 12 games last season, Hauschka was his typical, nearly-automatic self. He had made 15 of 16 extra point attempts to go with 17 made field goals in 19 attempts. In the team’s thirteenth game, he had a field goal blocked, and on the return, New York Jets defensive lineman Henry Anderson leveled him, causing an injury to Hauschka’s lower back. From that point onward, Hauschka was compromised, and it showed in the lack of power and accuracy on his kicks. He only made 5 of his final 9 attempts, and head coach Sean McDermott called upon punter Matt Darr in situations where Hauschka would have to kick longer field goals. He finished the year 22-of-28 on field goal attempts, a 79% conversion rate that represented his lowest make percentage since 2009 with the Baltimore Ravens.
Positional outlook: Hauschka is one of two kickers on the roster, joining undrafted rookie Chase McLoughlin in competing for the gig.
2019 Offseason: Hauschka has participated in all offseason activities to date. After watching him myself at practice on July 27, I can confirm that his power is back, as he looked like himself after finishing the year poorly while injured.
2019 Season outlook: Fans were worried that Hauschka’s injury would linger given his sharp downturn in performance after the cheap shot last year, but Hauschka appears to have healed fully from that injury. Barring some unforeseen circumstances, he will reprise his role as Buffalo’s kicker once again, and barring some downturn in performance, he should once again be a useful weapon whenever the team crosses the 50-yard line.