We have entered the deepest depths of the NFL offseason. Free agency and the draft are behind us, while minicamp and training camp won't start until early June and late July, respectively.
However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop. After all, by late August, each team has to start making its roster cuts. Until then, players have to secure their spots on the team; they need to do their jobs (well) or someone else will.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots on the 2016 New England Patriots. Today, we'll start this series with the lowest jersey number issued, and it belongs to kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
Name: Stephen Gostkowski
Jersey number: 3
Size: 6'1, 215 lbs.
2015 review: Despite Gostkowski's costly extra point miss in the Patriots' AFC Championship loss, he has played a very good 2015 season. Statistically, it was one of the best of his 10-year career, as the 32-year old scored 33 field goals on 36 attempts in the regular season and was a perfect 4-for-4 in the postseason.
Probably his biggest moment came in week 9 against the New York Giants, when Gostkowski hit a 54-yarder with 0:01 left in the game to secure the Patriots' 27-26 victory. He also made the longest field goal of his career in 2015, when he scored from 57-yards out in week 5 against the Dallas Cowboys.
The 2015 Pro Bowler and All Pro was also one of only eight players making all of his regular season extra point attempts (52 of 52). In the playoffs, Gostkowski hit his first three before missing his fourth attempt in the above-mentioned AFC title game.
As usual, Gostkowski was also a threat on kick-offs as only 28 of 97 were returned by the opposing team. On average, those 28 returns were brought back 18.79 yards, the second-lowest number in the NFL.
2016 preview: Gostkowski's roster spot is as safe as they can be, even though his $4.1 million cap hit is the second-highest for a kicker in the league. However, Gostkowski is absolutely worth it as he has shown time and again that he is capable of splitting the uprights from every distance while also being able to limit opponents' chances to return kickoffs. In short: he will be the Patriots' kicker in 2016.
Stephen Gostkowski is one of the best kickers in the NFL. While his 2015 season ended in disappointment, there is no reason to believe that he won't bounce back and once again perform at a Pro Bowl level.