Bengals Free Agency

Cincinnati Bengals: Time to move on from Mike Nugent?

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Dec 6, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals kicker Mike Nugent (2) kicks a field goal during the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 6, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals kicker Mike Nugent (2) kicks a field goal during the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mike Nugent has been a somewhat-reliable kicker for the Bengals, but his inopportune misses have us wondering whether it’s time for Cincinnati to find a new kicker.

Mike Nugent has been a much more reliable kicker than Bengals fans give him credit for, but his inopportune misses still shouldn’t be taken lightly. In this piece, we will take a look at the pro’s and con’s of retaining Nugent as a kicker and determine whether or not he should remain Cincinnati’s long-term option as a kicker.

First, let’s take a look at the positives. On kicks under 30 yards, Nugent has been automatic, drilling all 38 of his attempts from 2010-2015. Whether he’s playing in sun or snow, Nugent is extremely accurate from short-distance.

But since the Bengals are one of the NFL’s best red zone teams, is it really important to have a kicker who specializes in drilling short kicks? Some could argue that it is, as it’s almost a guarantee that the Bengals will score every time they enter the red zone, as long as they don’t turn the ball over. Others will argue that having a kicker who can drill nine of 10 short kicks and be more reliable at a distance is more valuable. With that, let’s take a look at Nugent’s weaknesses.

Nugent’s weakness starts with the fact that he’s 33 years old and was the 23rd-most accurate kicker in 2015. He was the least accurate kicker in the AFC North and has serious issues when it comes to kicking long field goals. Over the past two seasons, Nugent is just two-for-six on field goals of at least 50 yards. Steven Hauschka alone went six-for-six on field goals over 50 yards this season.

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In 2015, exactly half of the NFL’s kickers attempted at least five field goals of at least 50 yards, and only two of those 16 kickers missed more than half of their attempts of 50+ yards. It’s pretty clear that acquiring a kicker who can kick long field goals would be incredibly beneficial for Cincinnati, especially given that the Bengals punted from kickable distances several times in 2015.

It’s not like 2015 was just a down year for Nugent, either. In 2014, he was the league’s 27th-most accurate kicker. Nugent notably missed an overtime chip-shot kick that would’ve broken a tie against the Carolina Panthers which would’ve made Bengals an 11-win team rather than a 10-win team.

Nugent isn’t good on kickoffs, either. Only 42 of his 88 kickoffs went for touchbacks this season, and opposing teams averaged 22.63 yards per kickoff return. And there’s this:

This season’s rookie class doesn’t look too promising when it comes to kickers, but players like Justin TuckerJosh BrownGreg Zuerlein and Adam Vinatieri are all free agents.

Next: Bengals Lose Two Practice Squad Running Backs

In signing one of these players, the Bengals would be doing themselves a huge favor. It’s time to move on from Mike Nugent.

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