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Some intriguing free-agent kickers to replace Stephen Hauschka

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Do the Bills want to move on from their veteran kicker?

St Louis Rams v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Stephen Hauschka signed with the Buffalo Bills on March 9, 2017. Last August, he signed a two-year contract extension with the team. While his first season with the club was a great one, the Bills’ veteran kicker has struggled at times over the last two seasons.

In 2017, Hauschka converted on 29-of-33 field goals, only missing four kicks of over 40 yards. He was 7-of-9 from 50 yards or more—a phenomenal rate that included a long of 56 yards. In 2018, he began the year just fine, as he made 17-of-19 field goals and 15-of-16 extra points through Buffalo’s first 12 games. However, after taking a cheap-shot blindside hit at the hands of New York Jets defensive lineman Henry Anderson, Hauschka’s performance dropped off a bit. He finished that year by making just five of his last nine field goals, which meant that he would finish below 83% made field goals for the first time since 2009.

In 2019, Hauschka started questionably. Through Buffalo’s first nine games, he was only 8-of-13 on field goals, including an 0-for-2 performance against the Cleveland Browns in a game that the Bills lost 19-16. While Hauschka rebounded, finishing the year 18-of-19 (including a 4-for-4 performance in the playoffs), questions about his viability remain.

If Buffalo were to cut ties with their kicker, they have plenty of options available to them in free agency. Here are a few who we think could provide an upgrade.


Greg Zuerlein

If you’re going to move on from your kicker, you might as well replace him with one of the league’s best. “Greg the Leg” is lethal from distance, as he’s hit 33-of-55 attempts from over 50 yards, including 17 of his last 24 dating back to the 2016 season. Zuerlein is younger than Hauschka, as he won’t turn 33 until December. Given that he spent much of his career playing in a dome when the Los Angeles Rams played in St. Louis, some may wish to attribute his success to the lack of weather conditions; however, Zuerlein is excellent both indoors and outdoors. He’s hit 80% of his kicks outdoors, which is lower than his percentage in a dome (85%) and in a retroroof stadium (87%), but it’s still pretty darn good.

Ka’imi Fairbairn

The Houston Texans kicker is a free agent this year, and he would offer a great combination of youth and big-game experience. At only 26 years old, Fairbairn has already kicked in three playoff games. He’s made 3-of-4 field goals in those contests, as well as 5-of-5 extra points attempted. Fairbairn has been good from distance, hitting 10-of-16 kicks from 50-yards out and more. He’s been remarkably accurate and consistent in his young career, having hit at least 80% of his kicks in each of his three seasons with only 15 total misses. The downside? Of those 15 misses, ten of them have come while kicking outdoors.

Dan Bailey

After two straight poor seasons in 2017 and 2018, the veteran kicker had a darn good year in 2019. Bailey was automatic last year, missing only two of his 29 field goal attempts as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. He attempted three 50-yard field goals, and hit all three of them. For his career, Bailey has converted on 31-of-45 kicks from at least 50 yards out. Even with the aforementioned subpar years in 2017 and 2018, where Bailey only made 75% of his kicks in each season, he still holds a career-made field goal percentage of 87.3%, which is the sixth-best percentage in NFL history. Another added bonus: Bailey kicked a touchback on 76% of his kickoffs last year. He’s only 32 years old, so he definitely has some good years left.

Mason Crosby

A Green Bay Packers lifer, Crosby has kicked in all sorts of tough conditions, so he’d be a natural fit in Buffalo. He still has great leg strength at 35 years old (8/14 from 50+ since 2016), though he has declined in that range. The 13-year veteran is incredibly consistent regardless of where he’s kicking—amazingly, he’s attempted 203 field goals at home in his career and 203 field goals on the road, and he’s made only one more at home (165) than he has away from Lambeau Field—whether he’s indoors (84%) or outdoors (81%). Crosby probably isn’t going to leave Green Bay, but if he is, he would be the kind of player who absolutely could handle kicking in Buffalo. As an added bonus, Crosby ups his game in the postseason, as he is a career 90% kicker in the postseason (26-of-29).

Aldrick Rosas

Would the New York Giants drop a second-round RFA tender on him? There’s almost no way any team would do something that crazy, especially considering Rosas’s inconsistency over the first three years of his career. As a rookie, Rosas connected on just 72% of his field goals. Oddly enough, he was perfect from 50 yards or more (3-for-3), but he struggled in the 40-49 range, hitting just 4-of-9 field goals. In his second season, Rosas was amazing, as he made 32-of-33 kicks, including a 4-for-5 from at least 50 yards. Then, in 2019, he struggled again, making only 12-of-17 kicks, including going only 1-for-5 from 40 yards or greater. In three years, the 25-year old has also managed to miss eight extra points. He has tremendous leg strength, and if the Bills think that they can find a way to coach some consistency into him, then he could be a lethal weapon on long field goals. MetLife Stadium is notoriously difficult for kickers, so Rosas could use that experience in coming up to Buffalo, another place where kicking is a daunting task. The Bills would be taking a bit of a gamble, however, by hoping that the younger kicker could replace a steady veteran in Hauschka.


Poll

Which free agent kicker should Buffalo sign to replace Stephen Hauschka?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Greg Zuerlein
    (421 votes)
  • 8%
    Ka’imi Fairbairn
    (127 votes)
  • 4%
    Dan Bailey
    (58 votes)
  • 4%
    Mason Crosby
    (70 votes)
  • 1%
    Aldrick Rosas
    (17 votes)
  • 0%
    Other’ specify in comments
    (11 votes)
  • 50%
    None; just keep Hauschka
    (716 votes)
1420 votes total Vote Now