By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots don’t have many obvious candidates to give the franchise tag this offseason, but kicker Stephen Gostkowski is reportedly one of them.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Gostkowski is among at least 10 players that he named as candidates to receive a franchise tag from their current teams this offseason. Other notable names on Schefter’s shortlist are Texans edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, Cowboys edge rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, Chiefs edge rusher Dee Ford, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, and Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.
Gostkowski isn’t the only kicker Schefter named – the 49ers may do the same with veteran Robbie Gould.
The NFL hasn’t determined the official franchise tag values for 2019, but they will be released no later than March 13, when the league year and free agency begin at 4 p.m. The 2018 value for a kicker was just over $4.9 million.
This also wouldn’t be the first time the Patriots franchised Gostkowski. They did so in 2015 to keep him from hitting free agency, before working out a four-year extension worth $4.3 million per season. So it appears likely that the two sides will take a similar approach this offseason.
Gostkowski has been polarizing in New England due to inconsistent kicking in the playoffs, most recently missing a field goal attempt in the first quarter of Super Bowl LIII against the Rams. But he hit two field goals after that, including a 41-yarder with 1:12 left in regulation to put the game out of reach for L.A. At the end of the day, Gostkowski scored more than the Patriots’ actual offense in the game.
While he easily has the highest volume of any kicker in the playoffs since 2015, Gostkowski is 19-for-22 (86.4 percent) on field goal attempts in 11 games. By comparison, the Steelers’ Chris Boswell and the Falcons’ Matt Bryant are a combined 23-for-23 in the same amount of games.
The 35-year-old scattered five field goal misses throughout the 2018 season, resulting in a below-average 84.4 field goal percentage (19th in the league). But he did make 98.0 percent of extra points, which finished fifth overall.
Nevertheless, Gostkowski is third all-time with an 87.3 career field goal percentage. And according to data compiled by Reddit user “ctpatsfan77”, Gostkowski has hit 95.3 percent of his field goals in the fourth quarter and overtime, the best rate among the 20 most accurate kickers in history.
Despite his attention-grabbing playoff misses, Gostkowski’s consistency compared to many other kickers across the league makes him the Patriots’ most likely candidate to get the tag, and stay in New England until Bill Belichick can find a viable long-term replacement.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.