The best kicker on the free-agent market happens to be a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time first-team All-Pro, and three-time Super Bowl champion:
The New England Patriots, with three notable free agents – DE Trey Flowers, OT Trent Brown & K Stephen Gostkowski – are not planning to use franchise tag on any of them, sources tell @FieldYates and me. Barring last-minute change, the three are now scheduled to hit open market.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 5, 2019
League sources have informed ESPN teammates Adam Schefter and Field Yates that kicker Stephen Gostkowski will not be given the Franchise tag from the New England Patriots. That means he is eight days from reaching free agency and just six days away from speaking to the NFL’s other 31 teams when the “legal tampering” period opens up on March 11.
The Patriots drafted Gotskowski in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft and he carried the torch passed down from Adam Vinatieri without missing a beat. Gostkowski has been successful on 87.4 percent of his field goals and has five seasons in which he connected on at least 90 percent of his regular season kicks. In the postseason, Gostkowski is 39-for-44 (88.6%) on field goals and 88-for-92 (96.7%) on extra-points. If your team is looking for an experienced kicker with a résumé loaded with success, Gostkowski is at the top of such list.
When it comes to Patriots free agents, there is always a bit of “buyer beware” hesitation because New England simply doesn’t allow useful pieces to walk away for nothing. To that end, it’s worth noting that missed three kicks from 50+ yards and two others that were between 40-49 yards. Gostkowski’s 84.4 percent success rate represented a down year for a kicker who had been successful on 91.4 percent of his attempts in his last five years.
But still … the Bears are in a situation where a kicker like Gostkowski presents an immediate upgrade from what they had last year and what is currently on the roster. So while the Bears weren’t expected to be big spenders in the market, it’s possible Gostkowski – the best kicker on the market – changes whatever plans they had previously had in motion.