With the NFL Draft in the books and voluntary offseason workouts underway, the New England Patriots are already fully “on to 2022.”
The team currently has 85 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 men fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots build on their 10-7 record.
Today, the series continues with second-year kicker Quinn Nordin.
Name: Quinn Nordin
Position: Place kicker
Jersey number: 3
Opening day age: 24
Size: 6-foot-0, 195 pounds
Contract status: Under contract through 2022 (2023 ERFA)
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 and never looked back. While he was not entirely undisputed during his time as a Wolverine, Nordin still managed to lead the team in field goal and extra point attempts over each of his final 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. As a result, he entered the NFL as one of the top kicker prospects available in 2021. Nonetheless, he went undrafted and only joined the Patriots as a rookie free agent. Spending his first year as a pro with the team, he did not appear in any games.
What did his 2021 season look like? Only one kicker was selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, and it was not Quinn Nordin. Instead, the Michigan man had to go the free agency route. He eventually landed in New England as the sole undrafted rookie signed by the club that year; he arrived as the third place kicker option behind incumbent Nick Folk and former second-round draft pick Roberto Aguayo. With the latter released soon thereafter, Nordin and Folk entered in a two-man competition in training camp.
Nordin had some solid moments in practice and appeared to make a serious push for a roster spot, but he was unable to keep building on his momentum as soon as preseason began. Appearing in all three of the Patriots’ exhibition games, he went 6-for-8 on field goal attempts — his misses coming from 54 and 36 yards out — and just 4-for-7 on point-after tries. His combined success rate was just 66.7 percent. Nordin additionally attempted five kickoffs, which all resulted in touchbacks.
Despite his struggles, the Patriots held onto him through roster cutdown day and instead let Folk go. Folk was soon brought back into the mix, however, while Nordin started the regular season as a game-day inactive. Six days after the season opener, he was sent to injured reserve because of an abdomen issue. The team eventually opened his 21-day activation window in late November, but shortly thereafter decided to release Nordin; he was re-signed to the practice squad after clearing waivers and spent the rest of the season there.
What is his projected role? Nordin’s job description is pretty straight forward. He will see action exclusively as a place kicker and kickoff specialist, thus offering depth behind incumbent Nick Folk and some theoretical training camp competition. At the very least, he offers an additional leg to assist the kicking game units in practice both during the summer and into the regular season, and take some pressure off of Folk’s 37-year-old right leg.
Does he have positional versatility? Given his position, Nordin’s versatility is naturally limited to kicking the ball. While he has experience doing that on field goals, point-after tries and on kickoffs, he also has seen some action in the punting department — at least before arriving in the NFL. 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 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 punter Jake Bailey since the 2019 season. Bailey’s standing on the roster in combination of Nordin’s lack of experience might work against him, however: as noted above, he attempted only five kickoffs during last year’s preseason; he also had just one during his five years at Michigan.
What is his salary cap situation? After finishing the 2021 season on the New England practice squad, Nordin was re-signed by the team via a futures contract. Essentially a one-year deal through the 2022 season, it is paying him a salary of $705,000 with no guarantees whatsoever attached to the pact. That means that a) Nordin is currently not counting against the cap under the Top-51 rule, and that b) the team will not take on any dead cap in case of a release.
How safe is his roster spot? The Patriots re-signing incumbent place kicker Nick Folk in free agency is an ominous sign for Nordin; his spot on the team is far from safe with the veteran being brought back on a two-year contract. While he does have an advantage in terms of age and cost, Nordin will need an impressive training camp and preseason performance to make a push for the roster — and even then he likely won’t be able to unseat Folk.
One-sentence projection: Nordin will be released ahead of the regular season, but he is a strong candidate to return via the practice squad.