Stephen Gostkowski has been the starting kicker for the New England Patriots since his rookie season in 2006, making him the second-longest tenured player on the team behind 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady.
Gostkowski became an unrestricted free agent soon after the Patriots won Super Bowl LIII over the Los Angeles Rams in February, and he even reportedly drew interest on the open market from the San Francisco 49ers. He ultimately re-signed with New England on a two-year contract worth a reported $8.5 million to remain in Foxboro.
The 35-year-old kicker recently explained to ESPN's Mike Reiss how difficult it would have been to leave the Patriots as a free agent.
"You have to make decisions based on a multitude of factors, and every time I thought of what it would be like somewhere else, I always came back to how much I love it here. It's a weird business, and you have to explore every option, but it was really tough for me to think I was ever going to leave. I'm excited it worked out and just thankful for another opportunity to have a crack at playing for the Patriots."
Gostkowski has won three Super Bowl championships (in six appearances) with the Patriots. His second field goal late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIII clinched a 13-3 victory. Gostkowski also is one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history and ranks third all-time in field goal percentage.
The Patriots re-signed punter Ryan Allen to a one-year contract earlier in the offseason. New England values special teams more than any franchise in the league, and the return of Gostkowski and Allen will help maintain the stability of that group.
The Patriots also don't need to target a kicker in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft now that Gostkowski is back in the fold. They can shift even more attention to the weak spots on the roster, most notably at tight end. The Patriots have 12 picks in the 2019 draft, including six over the first three rounds.
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