TAMPA – Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter wasn’t kidding when he said he wanted to make a decision on his team’s kicking job sooner rather than later.
Shortly after arriving back in Tampa from their 23-12 loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati on Friday night, the Bucs cut 2016 second-round draft pick Roberto Aguayo.
The last straw for Koetter was the former FSU kicker’s struggles in the Bucs preseason opener in which Aguayo left four points on the field by missing an extra point and a 47–yard field goal.
Aguayo did make one kick, a chip-shot 20-yarder that came at the end of the Bucs first drive of the night, but it’s apparent to the Bucs that Aguayo never overcame the struggles that haunted him all last season.
The Bucs traded up to draft Aguayo in the second round (59th overall) last year but Aguayo never justified the move, hitting on just 22 of 31 field goal attempts and 32 of 34 extra points.
Those struggles have continued through training camp, where Aguayo has been pushed by veteran Nick Folk and has had some good days in which he shined but many more in which he’s remained inconsistent.
That prompted Koetter to say last week that he had hoped that one of either Aguayo or Folk would have seized the job by the time the first preseason game rolled around.
“There’s no reason it should have to go all the way to the (final cut),’’ Koetter said. “If it does it does, but we’re looking for a guy to win the job.’’
Don’t be so sure that just because the Bucs have waived Aguayo that Folk has won it. He has been almost as inconsistent as Aguayo has in camp so far, though he did make his only attempt – a 45-yarder – on Friday.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht has hinted on several occasions that the Bucs kicker for the 2017 season may not be on the roster right now, so Folk cannot rest easy thinking he’s won the job.
Folk, is however, coming off a solid season in which he made 27 of 31 field goals (87.1-percent) and 24 of 26 extra points and was only let go by the Jets because of a hefty contract.
He clearly has the inside edge on the job but Koetter made it clear in somewhat foretelling Saturday’s roster move that he expects near perfection out of a kicker.
“I know I keep saying it, but I can’t say it anymore, if you’re a kicker, you’ve got to make your kicks,’’ Koetter said.
The move to get Aguayo will go down as one of the worst decisions ever made by a Bucs GM, but Licht deserves credit for moving on so quickly.
Aguayo is the highest drafted player from the 2016 draft to be let go by his original team so far, but Licht learned from Bill Belichick during his time with the Patriots to always move on quickly from a mistake when you know you’ve made one.