The NFL has a close partnership with the United States’ armed forces through its Salute to Service initiative. As an extension of it, the league announced yesterday that four current players will embark on a weeklong journey to South Korea to visit troops and their families at U.S. military bases. The group will also have one-on-one meetings with installation leadership, and visit with the Security Forces’ K-9 Unit and Fire Department Unit.
The four men to travel to South Korea — a country that houses more than 26,000 U.S. military personnel; fourth-most behind the United States, Japan and Germany — on behalf of the NFL are Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack, New Orleans Saints defensive edge Cameron Jordan, Chicago Bears backup quarterback Chase Daniel, and current free agent kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
Gostkowski, of course, spent the first 13 years of his career with the New England Patriots — winning six conference championships and three Super Bowls with the club — and established himself as one of the league’s better place kickers. He still remains unsigned three weeks into free agency, however, despite the Patriots reportedly expressing interest in bringing the first-time free agent back into the fold.
The 35-year-old, who is listed as “New England Patriots kicker” in the NFL’s press release about the USO tour, should be expected to ultimately return to the club that drafted him in the fourth round in 2006. However, his journey to South Korea might prolong his stint on the open market by another week. That is, if the two sides have not already signed a new but not yet reported deal.
That being said, it is also possible that New England is currently just working on the parameters of a potential deal but will wait until after the draft to take contract negotiations with the four-time Pro Bowler to the next level. One way or the other, Gostkowski will be in the news again after returning to the United States: either because he re-joined the reigning world champions, or because the Patriots are going after a kicker in the draft.