The New England Patriots saw not one but two franchise legends depart this offseason. But while quarterback Tom Brady voluntarily decided to leave in free agency to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, kicker Stephen Gostkowski was released: the Patriots and their all-time leading scorer parted ways in late March, and he remained on the open market ever since. More than five months have passed, but the 36-year-old has now found a new home.
Gostkowski, who ended the 2019 season on injured reserve after hurting his hip, will now compete for a roster spot against third-year man Greg Joseph and undrafted rookie Tucker McCann. If he makes the team over Joseph and McCann, he would add another season to what has already been a storied career up until this point — one that included three Super Bowl wins with the Patriots following the 2014, 2016 and 2018 seasons.
A fourth-round draft pick by New England in 2006, Gostkowski was tasked with replacing the legendary Adam Vinatieri. Over the 14 seasons that followed, he appeared in a combined 232 regular season and playoff contests for the organization and proved himself one of the best place kickers in the NFL: Gostkowski made 87.4% of his regular season attempts as well as 88.6% during the playoffs.
The Patriots still decided to go in another direction this spring, by selecting Justin Rohrwasser in the fifth round of the draft. The rookie has struggled in training camp however, prompting the team to bring veteran Nick Folk, who helped replace Gostkowski last year, back on board.