The San Diego Chargers have placed kicker Nate Kaeding on injured reserve, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He will be eligible to be released once healthy, giving him a chance to return at some point this season.
Nate Kaeding will be placed on IR. Chargers required to release him when he's healthy. Figure Kaeding kicking for someone else in few weeks.— UTKevinAcee (@UTKevinAcee) October 22, 2012
While normally the injured reserve tag would mark the end of a player's season, it appears the Chargers only made the move to open up a roster spot. Once Kaeding's groin heals, the team will be forced to let him go.
At that point, he will become a free agent and can sign with another team without having to sit out the rest of the season. It's a key point because the longtime Chargers kicker has proved to be one of the NFL's best when healthy.
It's the second straight season Kaeding has dealt with serious injury issues, however. Last year, he tore his ACL in Week 1 and missed the rest of season. This year, he's been unable to shake a lingering groin issue, leading San Diego to make the move.
The Chargers have turned to Nick Novak at the position, who has connected on five of his six field-goal attempts. He made just 79 percent of his chances while filling in for Kaeding last season, which ranked in the bottom half of the league.
But the San Diego front office must have decided relying on him was a better option than using two roster spots on kickers until Kaeding returns.
If Kaeding does latch on elsewhere, his new team will be adding a kicker that has converted field goals at an 87 percent clip during his career. That includes 10 of 17 from at least 50 yards out.