What should the Buffalo Bills do with kicker Stephen Hauschka this offseason? Are there better options available?
We’ve put together a series of articles and now it’s your turn to vote! Read the article excerpts then let your voice be heard in the poll.
(By Jeff Kantrowski)
The question these always try to answer is whether or not the Bills should seek to retain a particular player. I don’t think competition is a bad idea for Stephen Hauschka, but let me be very clear that for me it’d be a very real competition with Hauschka winning a possibility I’m open to.
Does 1% under his expected accuracy mean he was a good kicker in 2019? No. Being very close to expected is the definition of average. If we sort our kickers by the variance between their actual accuracy and expected, Hauschka has 22 players ahead of him (and 18 behind him).
I’ll leave you this thought on Stephen Hauschka. He’s had two of his worst years as a professional and still comes out as “average.” Yes that means you can get better at the position. But it also means you can get worse.
(By Matt Warren)
The only dead money left on Hauschka’s contract is from his signing bonus, but that was very minimal. (The Bills instead used a hefty roster bonus in 2019 to give him his up-front money.) Only $625,000 times the two remaining seasons puts his dead cap number at $1.25 million. His cap hit in 2020 is $3.05 million.
Hauschka does have a roster bonus of $250,000 due on March 22nd and I don’t see any way they won’t pay him that. For that to happen, Buffalo would need to make a kicker replacement high priority and sign a free agent in the first couple of days.
Current roster alternatives
(By Matt Warren)
Earlier this offseason, the Bills signed Kaare Vedvik. At the time, the team said it was as a punter and not kicker, but Vedvick has played both positions. He’s kicked in one regular season NFL game, going 0-1 in field goal attempts and 0-1 in extra points attempts. His team at the time, the New York Jets, lost the game to the Buffalo Bills 17-16 so those points were pretty consequential, possibly costing his team the victory. He had a great preseason in 2019
(by Sean Murphy)
“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 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.
At only 26 years old, Fairbairn has already kicked in three playoff games for the Houston Texans. He 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.
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. 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.
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%).
Would the New York Giants drop a second-round RFA tender on him? 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. 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.
2020 NFL draft kicker options
(By Andrew Griffin)
Rodrigo Blankenship (Georgia)
If it feels like Georgia’s bespectacled kicker has been playing for the Bulldogs forever, but he finally leaves the team as one of the more clutch kickers in recent memory. He carries an 82.5 percent success rate on field goals and made a 55-yarder in the Rose Bowl. He did record some notable misses, against South Carolina in 2019 and Alabama in 2018, but more so than others on this list, Blankenship stands a good chance of hearing his name called in the draft.
Now it’s your turn to vote. There are a bunch of options for you in the poll.
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What should the Bills do at kicker this offseason?
This poll is closed
Stick with Hauschka, adding a training camp leg
Sign a free agent, cut Hauschka
Draft a kicker, cut Hauschka
Keep Hauschka, but bring in legitimate competition via the draft or UDFA for camp battle
Keep Hauschka, but bring in legitimate competition via free agency for camp battle
Keep Hauschka, let reserve contract P/K Kaare Vedvik battle in training camp