TAMPA – Patrick Murray is the new Buccaneers kicker. The question that has to be asked now is, for how long?
After working out several kickers at the team facility on Monday, the Bucs chose Murray as their replacement for veteran Nick Folk, who has missed five of his last seven field goal tries as well as an extra point.
The Bucs didn’t cut Folk, though. They placed him on injured reserve with what the team said was a minor injury specification, which suggests he could return when and if he gets healthy.
The Bucs will also have the option of cutting Folk when he’s deemed healthy, but how well Murray performs in this his second stint with the Bucs may determine whether they do that.
But Folk is not the only option the Bucs may consider should Murray not perform as expected. There’s a chance former Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos could become part of equation, too.
Santos is currently nursing a sore abductor sprain, but the Bucs reportedly brought him in for a physical on Monday to get an idea of when he might be ready to return.
It was reported over the weekend by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network that Santos is the Bucs top choice for the job, but it may be another couple of weeks before he’s available.
Given the fact Murray hasn’t kicked in the league in more than a year, it’s possible the Bucs may be looking at him as a temporary fix who will be replaced once Santos is healthy.
Murray can alter that plan, of course. All he has to do is regain the consistency that made him the Bucs choice over Barth three years ago when he joined the team as an undrafted free agent out of Fordham.
The Bucs would greatly welcome that. They’ve been searching for consistency at the kicker position ever since Barth tore an Achilles tendon while playing in a charity basketball game in 2013.
It was Murray, of course, who famously beat out Barth after Barth made his return in 2014, eventually making good on 20 of the 24 field goals he tried for the Bucs as a rookie that year.
A knee injury cost him his job a year later and he did not resurface in the NFL until he was signed by the Browns in 2016 but another knee injury sidelined him after just two games.
For his career, Murray has appeared in 18 games and hit on 21 of 26 field-goal tries, including five of the seven he’s tried from 50 yards out or longer.
Murray was chosen over several other kickers, including veterans such as Mike Nugent, Andrew Franks and Josh Lambo, but the choice is not that unusual as the Bucs have a previous relationship with him.
Murray’s name first surfaced in the immediate aftermath of the Bucs 19-14 loss to the Patriots last Thursday when general manager Jason Licht mentioned it as a possible replacement for Folk.