There’s no way around it. Roberto Aquayo was one of the worst kickers in the NFL this season. Now, he’s going to have to fight to keep his job.
Tampa Bay plans to being in competition to challenge the former Florida State star, because, in the words of head coach Dirk Koetter, the kicking game was bad.
“Our field goal percentage this year was not good enough,” Koetter told ESPN . “Now that’s not the only stat that wasn’t good enough, but it wasn’t good enough.”
Maybe Aquayo wilted a little under the pressure of being the highest drafted kicker since Mike Nugent in 2005. Nugent went 47th overall to the New York Jets; Aquayo 59th to the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay traded third and fourth-round picks to move up to the second round to pick Aquayo, the most accurate kicker in college football history — and were immediately lampooned. One general manager told Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report the pick was the “dumbest … in the history of the draft.”
That’s harsh — QB Akili Smith to Cincinnati, anyone? — but his performance certainly didn’t warrant that second-round selection. He only hit four field goals between 40 and 49 yards, which tied for 25th in the league. He only made 40 percent of his field goals of longer than 40 yards (4 of 10), and he made just 71 percent of his attempts (22-31), which was dead last among all NFL kickers. He never tried a field goal of loner than 50 yards, and his long this season was 43.
Now, kickers are notoriously fickle, and Aquayo could find himself next year and make everyone forget his troubles. But for that to happen, he’s going to have to beat the competition.