The certainty of knowing your kicker can make a 40-plus yard field with ease is golden in the NFL, and a couple of free agents can give head coaches that peace of mind.
Plenty of kickers in the NFL were successful during the regular season, but others will definitely be looking for new jobs in a couple of weeks once free agency really starts.
Only a handful of kickers in 2012 were at least 90 percent accurate with their field-goal attempts while others struggled to kick it between the uprights. Unfortunately for teams desperately needing a good kicker, Blair Walsh—the top kicker this season—isn’t available.
But here are some kickers who will be on the open market and shouldn’t give head coaches heart attacks with attempts from long distances.
3. Nick Novak, San Diego Chargers
Nick Novak was lucky enough to be one of the kickers during the regular season who was at least 90 percent accurate. In fact, he was exactly 90 percent accurate, making 18-of-20 attempts. This comes as especially surprising since his career average is around 76 percent.
Although Novak didn’t have many attempts in 2012, he was very reliable. He was perfect from 40-49 yards, going 4-for-4, but his two misses came from 50-plus.
Novak did hit two of the four attempts from way deep, connecting for a season long of 51 twice—once against the New York Jets and once against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
2. Jason Hanson, Detroit Lions
The inability of the Lions to score touchdowns constantly gave Jason Hanson the opportunity to show what he’s capable of. Hanson was sixth in the NFL this season with 36 field-goal attempts, making 32 of them for the 11th-best field-goal percentage.
Hanson is very comfortable kicking from any reasonable part of the field. He didn’t miss from inside 40 yards in 2012, going 14-for-14. From 40-49 yards, he made 16-of-19—the most attempts and successful kicks of any kicker from that range.
Hanson was only able to try three kicks from further than 50 yards, but he did connect on two of them. His longest made attempt of the season was from 53 yards out, but has a career-long of 56—which came in 2008 and 1995.
1. Phil Dawson, Cleveland Browns
Phil Dawson also had the luxury of kicking for a team with touchdown-scoring issues. Dawson finished the year with the second-highest field-goal percentage and the highest of anyone with at least 20 attempts. He connected on 29-of-31 chances.
What is especially interesting about Dawson is that the two misses during the year didn’t come from very long spots on the field. One came against the Cleveland Browns and was 39 yards and the other was blocked by the Oakland Raiders from 28 yards.
Dawson, however, was smooth as can be from long. He made all six attempts from 40-49 yards and was 7-for-7 from 50 yards or further. His long of the season was 53 yards out, coming against the Denver Broncos in Week 16.