Will David Buehler Be the Giants' Placekicker for the 2013 Season?
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Lawrence Tynes has received a decent amount of criticism this offseason for his inability to consistently make 50-plus-yard field goals.
When you consider, however, that David Buehler could be the Giants' placekicker in 2013, Tynes' leg strength suddenly doesn't seem so bad.
Buehler was signed by Big Blue on Feb. 13 to a one-year contract worth $630,000. While there haven't been any official statements that the contract is guaranteed, Spotrac is assigning a cap hit of the contract amount to Buehler next season.
Buehler hasn't kicked in the NFL since early in the 2011 season.
He was placed on injured reserve by the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 10 of that season because of a torn adductor muscle in his hip. He then had surgery on a torn labrum a month later. He was waived by the Cowboys in March 2012 after failing a physical and was not picked up by another team.
In his lone season as an NFL placekicker in 2010, Buehler made an underwhelming 24 of 32 field goals, although an impressive four of six were from beyond 50 yards.
Buehler also led the NFL in touchbacks in 2009 with 29 (he attempted 76). This is impressive, considering kickoffs still happened from the 30-yard line that season.
However, there are a few problems believing Buehler will be a successful placekicker for the Giants if he gets the job in 2013, even from long range.
He was subpar in this role in 2010—he also missed two extra points—and the Cowboys thought so little of his future field-goal kicking prospects that they replaced him with then-rookie Dan Bailey for the 2011 season.
Also, since he has suffered a severe injury to his hip, Buehler may not have the same strength in his leg he had in 2009 and 2010. When you consider that he only had 22 touchbacks in 81 attempts in 2010, his leg strength may have actually peaked the previous season.
And then there is the fact of where Buehler has kicked in his college and professional careers. Dallas is a warm weather, fairly mild climate in the fall and early winter. USC, where Buehler played his college ball, couldn't be in a better climate for kicking.
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Now Buehler will have to make field goals and get touchbacks eight times a season in the cold, wintry Northeast, with the unpredictable wind patterns at MetLife Stadium as an additional factor.
Re-signing Tynes, who is an unrestricted free agent, is obviously an option, but the math doesn't add up here.
The Giants have limited cap space and 26 other free agents to consider.
Tynes is likely to receive a multi-year contract worth at least $1 million a year on the open market.
He is still relatively young for a kicker at 34 and has made at least 80 percent of his field goals in four of his five full seasons with the Giants (he missed most of 2008 with a knee injury). He's also proven that he is clutch, having kicked New York into the Super Bowl twice.
It will be hard for the Giants to explain carrying two kickers with guaranteed contracts totaling around $2 million for 2013 when they have so many other players to sign and such limited cap space in which to do it.
If the Giants want to sign another free-agent kicker besides Tynes, the only one that makes sense from this year's crop is Pro Bowler Phil Dawson. The 38-year-old made 29 of 31 field goals last season for the Browns, and was a perfect seven-for-seven from beyond 50 yards.
While Dawson is not great on touchbacks—having kicked only 30 of 77 from the 35-yard line, which was tied for 16th in the league—pairing him with Buehler is rational, even if Buehler's prowess on touchbacks is diminished.
How will the Giants handle their kicking situation in 2013?
Committing to two kickers only makes sense, though, if Dawson is in the mix, since he is clearly an improvement over Tynes.
Dawson, however, is probably not leaving Cleveland.
He loves it there, and the feeling is mutual, considering he has kicked for the Browns for a staggering 14 seasons.
If you're thinking that the Giants may be looking to draft a kicker, it's a long shot at best.
New York has drafted one kicker since the NFL draft went to its current format of seven rounds in 1994. That kicker was John Markham, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2001 draft. He was cut in training camp and never made the 53-man roster of an NFL team.
For better or, probably, worse, it looks like Buehler will be the Giants' placekicker next season.
If he isn't, then the Giants either get lucky and sign Dawson, or they make a mistake by bringing Tynes back.
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