Kickers, like the Eagles’ Jake Elliot, aren’t always viewed as ‘real’ football players. But there isn’t a winning football team in existence that does not have a great kicker. When the game is on the line and you need a 53-yard field goal to win, it helps to have a guy that can be trusted to make the kick.
So, when teams find a great kicker, they typically try to lock him down. That is precisely what the Philadelphia Eagles have done by signing Jake Elliot to a five-year contract extension worth $21.8 million (with $10.45 million guaranteed).
With an average annual value of $4.2 million, he will be the sixth highest-paid kicker with the third-highest guaranteed amount amongst kickers.
On the surface, it looks like a smart move by the Eagles. He has made every field goal attempted this season (14-14), including a 53-yarder in the loss to Minnesota.
For his career (all three years of it), he has made 86.8 percent of his field-goal attempts. In each of his first two seasons, he made 83.9 percent of his kicks (26-31 in each season). As for his extra points, he has made 93 of the 100 attempted in 42 career games.
Those are pretty good numbers, overall.
Looking at them, and especially how well he is kicking this season, locking him down seems like a good idea. He is young (24), and if all goes well they will have him for his best years (at least). But the ‘if’ is what makes this contract a foolish idea.
When you have a kicker you feel confident in, you want to keep him. Since we are entering Week 13 and he has yet to miss a field goal this season, the confidence the Eagles have in him appears justified. But the Eagles are overlooking an important reality when it comes to kickers.
Those guys can lose their edge at any time.
It is not unheard for a guy to be one of the more accurate kickers in the league one season and appear to be all-washed up the next. Right, Adam Vinatieri?
Does that mean you shouldn’t sign kickers to long-term contracts? Of course not. Kickers are like every other football player. They want to know the team values them. But the Eagles shouldn’t have guaranteed so much.
They are stuck paying him at least $10+ million, which means he is going to be in Philadelphia for at least the next three or so years. But the Eagles have been overpaying guys this season, so this contract should come as no surprise.
They can take the cap hit and cut him at any time, of course. But next to losing, paying guys that are not even on the team anymore has to be the worst. But you do have to pay your kicker, especially if he is one of the good ones.
Just don’t guarantee too much money.
That way, you can avoid feeling what Bears fans felt courtesy of Cody Parkey in 2018 or what Vikings fans felt after Blair Walsh’s infamous playoff miss in 2015.
Before those unfortunate misses, both were beloved by fans and considered good at their jobs.
After those kicks—not so much.
Last modified: November 28, 2019 5:41 PM UTC