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Patriots 2021 roster breakdown: Don’t count on Quinn Nordin being the long-term answer at the kicker position just yet

Related: Patriots roster breakdown: DB Jalen Mills

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 06 Maryland at Michigan Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the NFL Draft in the rear-view mirror and voluntary offseason workouts underway, the New England Patriots are already fully “on to 2021.”

The team currently has 87 players under contract, but only 53 of them will be able to survive roster cutdowns in early September and ultimately make the active team. Over the course of spring and summer, just like we have in years past, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots bounce back from what was a disappointing 7-9 season last year.

Today, the series kicks continues with place kicker Quinn Nordin.

Hard facts

Name: Quinn Nordin

Position: Place kicker

Jersey number: TBD

Opening day age: 23

Size: 6-foot-0, 195 pounds

Contract status: Under contract through 2023 (2024 RFA)

Experience

What is his experience? Leaving his high school career as a three-star prospect, Nordin originally committed to Penn State before eventually signing with the University of Michigan. He did not see any action during his 2016 freshman campaign but broke out in his second year in Ann Arbor: he played in all 13 of the Wolverines’ games in 2017 and ended the season as an honorable All-Big Ten mention while making 79.2 percent of his field goal kicks.

While not entirely undisputed as Michigan’s kicker, Nordin did lead the team in field goal and extra point attempts over the ensuing three seasons with the team. In total, he ended his college career with some solid numbers: Nordin went 42-for-58 on field goal attempts with a career long of 57 yards (tying a school record), and also made 119 of his 124 extra point kicks for a combined success rate of 88.5 percent. He entered the NFL level as one of the better kicker prospects available.

What did his 2020 season look like? As has been the case going all the way back to 2018, Nordin entered his fifth-year senior season not as the clear-cut top place kicking option on Michigan’s roster but rather in a competition with junior Jake Moody. Once more this resulted in the two men sharing reps both in practice and during the actual games: Nordin handled field goal duties in four of the team’s games, with Moody being the kicker of choice in the two other contests before the remainder of the season was canceled.

This approach might have played a role in Moody’s comparative inconsistency during his final year kicking for the Wolverines, as did some bad long snapping play. All in all, he was successful on just two of his five field goal attempts (40%): Nordin made his lone kicks against Wisconsin and Michigan State from 46 and 23 yards out, respectively, but he went 0-for-3 against Rutgers with his misses coming from 35, 49, and 53 yards away. Moody, for comparison, made one of his four field goal tries.

Not all was bad for Nordin during his final year in Ann Arbor, though. He successfully made all 12 of his extra point tries during the season — including six in the challenging game against Rutgers — and also set a school record for most career field goals from at least 40 yards out: his 46-yarder versus Wisconsin was the 14th kick of his career falling into this category. On top of that, he also was named an Academic All-Big Ten honoree for the second time in his career. Nonetheless, he still went unselected in the 2021 draft.

2021 preview

What is his projected role? Nordin’s job description is a pretty straight forward one: he will serve as a place kicker and potentially a kickoff specialist, thus offering depth and competition against incumbent Nick Folk and fellow veteran Roberto Aguayo. At the very least, he offers an additional leg to assist the kicking game units in practice and take some pressure off of Folk and possibly Aguayo.

What is his special teams value? Nordin will perform field goal and extra point tries and could possibly also carve out a role on kickoffs — a role traditionally held by place kickers in New England, but one that has belonged to All-Pro punter Jake Bailey since the 2019 season. Nordin’s lack of experience might work against him, however: he was asked to perform just one kickoff during his five years at Michigan even though he was extensively used in that role in high school.

Does he have positional versatility? Given his position, Nordin’s versatility is naturally limited to kicking the ball away. While he has experience doing that on field goals, point-after tries and the aforementioned lone kickoff, he also has seen some action in the punting department: during his junior and senior seasons in high school, he attempted a combined 36 punts for an average of 43 yards per kick.

What is his salary cap situation? Nordin signed a standard three-year rookie free agency contract with the Patriots after the draft, but no further details have been announced just yet. However, we already know that the youngster will not count against New England’s Top-51 salary cap during the offseason unless he received a signing bonus. Either way, his deal is one of the cheapest on the roster.

What is his roster outlook? Nordin will have to fight for a job throughout training camp and the preseason, and from the current point of view he seems to be facing an uphill battle. Aguayo and especially Folk have much more experience kicking at the NFL level, with the latter having served as the Patriots’ place kicker since being signed midway through the 2019 season. Nordin could upset the two veterans and earn a spot on the team, but it seems more likely that he is headed for the practice squad.