When Stephen Gostkowski was placed on injured reserve because of a season-ending hip injury, the New England Patriots brought numerous kickers in for tryouts with one of them emerging victoriously: the team signed Mike Nugent to replace Gostkowski as the place kicker, with punter Jake Bailey taking over kickoff duties. Four games later, however, it appears the Patriots’ kicking operation will see another shakeup.
As first reported by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the team has informed Nugent that he will be released later today. During his four games since coming to New England as a free agency signing, the 37-year-old was mildly successful: he attempted eight field goals and was successful on just five of them — one of the misses was a block just this Sunday — for a rate of 62.5%, while also hitting 15 of his 16 extra point tries (93.8%).
All in all, however, Nugent never quite seemed to enjoy the Patriots coaching staff’s trust. The best evidence for this, other than his release of course, was that the team decided to pass on seven potential field goal attempts between 37 and 53 yards out since Nugent was added. Instead, the Patriots’ offense stayed on the field in order to try to extend the drives. Today’s move therefore does not come as too big of a surprise.
Where the Patriots go from here is anybody’s guess, but veteran kicker Matt Bryant might be an option: the Atlanta Falcons released the 44-year-old earlier today after he posted similar numbers as Nugent during eight games (9-of-14 on field goals; 15-of-16 on PATs). There is one major difference, though, as four of Bryant’s five missed field goals came from beyond 50 yards — none of Nugent’s came from a similar distance.