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Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan was in a pretty bad mood following his team's 17-10, preseason-closing loss to the Detroit Lions last night. Seriously, see for yourself. In a post-game press conference that lasted less than four minutes, Ryan leveled criticism at his team's overall play in the game, but went out of his way to call out one player, in particular: kicker Dan Carpenter.
"Certainly, we’ve got some issues. I mean, hell, we can’t make a field goal," Ryan said Thursday night. "So we better be looking for every, any guy that’s ever kicked a football in his life will get an opportunity here. I’m tired of seeing us missing field goal. Tired of seeing us, you know, we’ve got a kickoff guy, and we miss field goals. Like, I don’t get it. So we’ll certainly be looking out there. I don’t know if there’s any out there, but nobody gets this job by default. And certainly you’ve got to earn your way out here. So I’m very disappointed in that, and I don’t care who knows it."
Carpenter, who has only been practicing for the last few weeks after missing the first chunk of training camp and the first preseason game with a hamstring injury, hit the upright on a 40-yard kick during last night's loss. He finished the preseason just 3-of-6 on his field goal tries, and he also missed an extra point in last weekend's win over Pittsburgh. No one would argue that Carpenter has had a good preseason.
Still, we're also talking about a kicker that has made 67-of-74 field goal tries in his two seasons with the Bills, including 10-of-14 from 50 or more yards, and who signed a four-year contract worth just shy of $10 million prior to last season. If Ryan was serious about the idea of moving on from Carpenter, he'd be doing so knowing that Carpenter has three years left on that deal, and knowing that he'd be creating $2,137,500 in dead salary cap money as well.
As Ryan seemed to acknowledge, finding a street free agent kicker that can replace both Carpenter and Jordan Gay - who were both very good at their respective jobs last season - will be far easier said than done. Still, this position is worth keeping an eye on as cuts start to be made around the league over the next two days.