National Football League

Buccaneers defend decision to draft another kicker

Questioned about their strategy after drafting a kicker for the second time in four years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defended the decision.

“We need to score more points,” coach Bruce Arians told ESPN on Saturday after the club selected Matt Gay of Utah in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

In 2016, the Buccaneers dealt third- and fourth-round picks to the Kansas City Chiefs to move up to draft Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo with 59th overall pick

Aguayo, the first kicker taken in the second round since the New York Jets picked Mike Nugent in 2005, was a flop. In his only NFL season in 2016, he played in 16 games for the Bucs and missed nine of his 31 field-goal attempts and two extra points. He was cut in the 2017 preseason.

General manager Jason Licht, who drafted Aguayo, rejected the criticism of Saturday’s selection of Gay.

“You wouldn’t say the same thing for a receiver, if a receiver didn’t work out a couple years ago that you took in the second round, would you be afraid to take a receiver in the fifth round? No,” Licht told ESPN. “This is a very, very important position.”

In two seasons at Utah, Gay made 56 of 65 field-goal attempts and all 85 of his PATs.

Tampa Bay’s kicking game struggled last season with Chandler Catanzaro (nine games) and Cairo Santos (seven games). Combined, they converted 20 of 27 field goals and 40 of 44 extra points.

–Field Level Media

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