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91 players in 91 days: kicker Tyler Bass

A legitimate kicking competition is brewing in Orchard Park

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills signed veteran Stephen Hauschka to handle their kicking duties in March of 2017. Since then, the club has added rookies each offseason to, at least ostensibly, compete with Hauschka for the job. However, each player added has served a more realistic purpose—giving Hauschka a break during training camp.

In 2017, it was undrafted rookie free agent Austin Rekhow. In 2018, Buffalo added Tyler Davis. In 2019, Hauschka faced the most serious challenge for his job during his Bills’ tenure in the form of Chase McLaughlin; however, Buffalo ultimately went with the veteran. All three of those kickers had a long row to hoe as undrafted players looking to unseat a highly paid, solid veteran.

Heading into the 2020 season, the Bills have added yet another young kicker, but there’s one major difference—they spent a draft choice on this one. While that doesn’t necessarily signal the end of Hauschka’s time in Buffalo, it represents a shift in urgency regarding the need to think about his replacement.

In today’s installment of “91 players in 91 days,” we profile that kicker—the first draft choice Buffalo has spent on a kicker since Dustin Hopkins in 2013.

Name: Tyler Bass
Number: 2
Position: K
Height/Weight: 5’10”, 183 lbs.
Age: 23 (24 on 2/14/2021)
Experience/Draft: R; selected in the sixth round (No. 188 overall) by the Bills in the 2020 NFL Draft
College: Georgia Southern
Acquired: 2020 NFL Draft choice

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Bass signed a four-year contract worth a total of $3,479,218 this offseason. $184,218 of the total contract is guaranteed in the form of a signing bonus. If Bass makes the 53-man roster, he carries a salary-cap charge of $656,054.

2019 Recap: As a senior at Georgia Southern, Bass had a fairly inconsistent season overall. After making 90% of his field goals during his junior year, Bass was only 20-for-28 (71.4%, a career low) last year. Two of his eight misses were blocked, and the longest field goal he made was 49 yards. That last point is confusing given the obvious leg strength Bass possesses, and he’s repeatedly shown off that leg strength this offseason via video. While he may have missed more field goals last year, he remained incredible on kickoffs. Bass had 72 kickoff attempts last season, and 55 of those attempts resulted in a touchback. For his college career, he kicked off 268 times, notching 198 touchbacks.

Positional outlook: It’s Bass v. Hauschka for the kicking role, though there’s an outside chance that the Bills keep both and use Bass on kickoffs only—given the new roster rules regarding practice squad players and their ability to be called up throughout the season, the team could, in theory, spend two roster spots on kickers while using a rotating cast of players as the 54th and 55th men on the roster for other positions of need.

2020 Offseason: Aside from dropping bombs like the one linked in the video above, there’s not much else to report on Bass.

2020 Season outlook: The Bills came close to replacing Hauschka midway through last season, as they submitted a waiver claim for McLaughlin, the kicker they waived at the end of training camp, in December while Hauschka was in the midst of his worst portion of the 2019 season. If the Bills were willing to part with their veteran kicker then, it tells me that they’re open to doing the same this year. By drafting Bass, it shows that the front office is serious. I wouldn’t say that I expect Bass to be Buffalo’s kicker in 2020, but I certainly won’t be surprised if he ends up filling that role.