We interrupt our wall-to-wall, door-to-door, sunrise-to-sundown, soup-to-nuts Tom Brady coverage for a Stephen Gostkowski update.
The kicker. You remember, right? One of the most accurate in NFL history, been with the team since 2006? He’s one of a slew of Patriots we’ve underreported on this offseason because of the Brady fixation.
I reached out to Gostkowski this week as he continues recovery from the hip injury that ended his 2019 season after four games and required surgery.
His text response?
“Just working hard rehabbing ... I think Brady is the bigger story here.”
He’s right. But Brady isn’t the only story. Gostkowski’s progress and the pending free agent status of players like Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton, Joe Thuney and Matt Slater matter too, regardless of where Tom Brady hangs his hat in 2020.
Gostkowski signed a two-year, $8.5M deal last offseason so he’s under contract for 2020. But at 36 and coming back from injury, there’s no assurance he’ll back for his 15th season as a Patriot.
He gets that. But he’s attacking his five-day-a-week rehab work “trying to get healthy so I have the choice” to keep playing.
After Gostkowski went down, the Patriots first turned to Mike Nugent as his replacement. Nugent didn’t get it done so the team brought in Nick Folk. Folk was excellent even after missing a game for an emergency appendectomy. Folk kicked in seven games and the playoffs. Folk is a free agent and turns 36 in November.
He showed himself capable enough to be a viable option for any team and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Patriots maintain steady contact with him throughout this offseason.
It also wouldn’t be a surprise if they dipped into the draft for a kicker as they did with Gostkowski in the fourth round back in 2006.
The return on investment from Gostkowski — the 118th overall pick in that draft — has been outstanding. He’s always been a lot better player than he’s been given credit for locally — an irritation that’s been a writing chew toy for me the past few years.
So while our fixation is quite reasonably with the quarterback who’s been with the team since 2000, the kicker who’s been with the team since 2006 and has played a role in plenty of the team’s success as well (including Super Bowl 53) shouldn’t be overlooked.