TAMPA – Patrick Murray might be trading stocks for Wall Street firm right now had the Buccaneers not reached out to him as part of their search for a kicker to replace the struggling Nick Folk.
“I was doing the job line,’’ Murray said when asked what he’s been doing since the Saints cut him after he got only a week-long look from them back during the preseason.
“I was just trying to stay busy and put my degree to use. I was a finance major so I interviewed at a bunch of financial firms. I looked into commodities trading and actually had a couple of things lined up. But I was constantly training with my father, too.’’
It showed on Monday. Murray won the kicking tryout the Bucs held at One Buc Place in part by kicking a 59-yard field goal on the NFL practice fields he’s spent the most time on during his brief career.
“It felt like I was back home,’’ said Murray, whose NFL career began in 2014 when he beat out Connor Barth for the Bucs kicker’s job in training camp and went on to make 20 of his 24 field-goal attempts as an NFL rookie.
That solid first season earned Murray, an undrafted free agent out of Fordham, a return engagement with the Bucs but his career went sideways when he tore the ACL in his kicking leg during the 2015 training camp.
Another right knee injury, a torn patellar tendon, ruined Murray’s comeback bid with the Browns a year later, but Murray says he’s completely healed now and excited to be resuming his career with the Bucs.
“It’s come full circle for me now,’’ Murray said of his career path, “and more than ever now I believe that God does have a plan for everything and that God’s timing is never wrong.’’
“Those two injuries I had, they were supposed to happen. There was a reason for that. And I’m supposed to be back here. There’s a reason for that as well, and so I’m ready to embrace that.’’
Murray said he didn’t pay a lot of attention to what was happening with Folk the past few weeks but noted that Bucs fans kept him apprised of what was going on with the team’s kicking situation.
“Bucs fans were reaching out,’’ he said. “And I love those fans. I can’t wait to play for them again. It was all messages of positivity and support. It’s nice to have that connection.’’
The connection that matters most, of course, is the one Murray makes with the ball. He said his three-day-a-week training regimen has allowed him to stay sharp and that he returns to the Bucs a better kicker than he was.
“I’m a better man (than I was when I was here last),’’ Murray said. “Therefore, I’m a better kicker.’’