When your favorite team’s kicker begins to struggle and miss makeable kicks, it’s easy to say, “Let’s just bring in a new guy.”
Washington Football fans have been put in that situation with Dustin Hopkins’ recent struggles. Since joining the team in 2015, Hopkins has been a solid, consistent kicker who’s never dipped below an 80% success rate on his field-goal attempts.
But in 2020, Hopkins has fallen off significantly. He’s converted a career-low 70.6% of his kicks and all five of his misses this season have come beyond 40 yards. Before this season, Hopkins hit over 80% of his field goals from 40-49 yards.
It’s unclear what’s prompted this regression, but we’ve seen kickers suddenly lose their accuracy before. Ron Rivera admitted the team is “discussing” bringing in another kicker, so if they decide to go the route of replacing Hopkins, there are a few names out there that could be interesting.
The caveat here though is that there’s a reason these individuals aren’t starters.
Maher kicked for two years with the Cowboys and had a great first year in 2018, making 29-of-36 kicks and six out of seven from 50+ yards out. However, he fell off significantly last season, which prompted the Cowboys to spend big on Greg Zuerlein.
Maher now resides on the Texans’ practice squad, so if Washington were to sign him, the Texans would have to exclude him from their list of four protected players. He also spent roughly three weeks on Washington’s practice squad back in September, so there is a bit of familiarity there for Ron Rivera.
Nugent has been around for quite a while, entering the league in 2005 and spending most of his time with the Jets and Bengals. He’s hit just under 81% of his career field goals and most recently kicked for the Patriots last season (5-8 FG, 15-16 XP).
The 38-year-old is currently on the Cardinals’ practice squad and could be had if the Cardinals don’t use a protection on him.
Fry started his career with the Bears as a part of Chicago’s insane kicker search after Cody Parkey’s famous “double-doink” miss in the playoffs. He made three-of-four field goals in a 2019 preseason game before getting released.
Fry then spent time on the Ravens, Panthers and Buccaneers’ practice squads up until signing with the Falcons’ practice squad in October. He was activated for one game, hit a field goal and was moved back to the practice squad the next day.
Aguayo never lived up to his billing as the best kicking prospect since Sebastian Janikowski, lasting just two years in the NFL after getting selected in the second-round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Buccaneers. The 26-year-old most recently worked as an intern with the PGA, but he’s still looking to get back in the league. It’s unclear how much interest he’d garner, especially from Washington, but he did spend two months on the Panthers’ practice squad in 2017, so it’s not like Ron Rivera doesn’t know anything about him.
Best known for his days with the Seahawks, Hauschka has a career 85% field goal percentage. However, his accuracy has fallen off severely since leaving Seattle. He made less than 80% of his kicks in 2018 and 2019 and then was cut by the Jaguars after one game this season. Hauschka is an outright free agent at 35 years old.
Unless you have someone like Justin Tucker or Harrison Butker, kickers are one of the most replaceable players on a 53-man roster. However, it’s not always the best idea to shuffle through kickers like phone cases.
When pickings are slim, sometimes it’s better to just let the current guy try to figure things out.