Three weeks after the start of free agency, the New England Patriots are still left with one major hole to fill: the reigning world champions do not have a placekicker under contract at the moment. Stephen Gostkowski, who held the role for the last 13 seasons and earned three Super Bowl rings as well as four Pro Bowl selections in the process, remains unsigned despite the Patriots and the kicker’s camp reportedly working towards a new contract.
There appears to be one major roadblock between the two sides, however: as NFL Network’s Mike Giardi reported earlier today, money appears to be an issue when it comes to New England’s efforts to bring the 35-year-old back into the fold. How much the two sides are apart is not known as things stand right now, but it would not be a surprise to see the Patriots value Gostkowski below the league’s top-paid kickers.
After all, the veteran ranked only 19th in field goal percentage during the 2018 regular season and also missed the first of his three field goal attempts in Super Bowl 53 — making the NFL’s most recent championship game the third straight in which Gostkowski was unsuccessful on at least one of his kicks. He was generally accurate on extra points all year long and tremendous on kickoffs, but an argument can be made that he did not live up to his status among the most expensive kickers in the NFL.
As a result, the two sides will have to find a middle ground in the upcoming days and weeks that works for both — if not, the Patriots might look towards the draft and subsequent free agency period to at least bring in a challenger if not successor for their long-term placekicker. No matter what happens, though, one thing seems certain: Gostkowski becoming the league’s highest-paid kicker once again will likely not happen given his age and recent inconsistencies.