Bucs Could Sign Beleaguered Cowboys Starter

Amid the Tampa Bay Buccaneers releasing kicker Ryan Succop, a seemingly unlikely name surfaced as a replacement.

USA Today’s Bucs Wire suggested free agent Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher as a potential signing after Succop. Maher didn’t impress anyone the last time he played at Raymond James Stadium when he missed four-consecutive extra points in a 31-14 Wild Card win over the Bucs in January. Talk of Maher’s benching surfaced afterward, but the Cowboys stuck with him for the Divisional Round.

“Alright, alright, Bucs fans probably still remember Maher’s atrocious performance in the 2022 Wild Card game against the Bucs,” River Wells of Bucs Wire wrote. “But if you look at Maher’s regular-season stats, it’s very easy to call that an outlier.”

Brett Maher had a rough first half kicking extra points.

Missed PATs in Cowboys postseason history:

◽️ First half vs. Bucs: 3 (0-for-3)
◽️ All other games combined: 2 (168-for-170)

H/T @starrettjason

🎥 @OmahaProdpic.twitter.com/BuSkhbyVsu

— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) January 17, 2023

“Maher scored a staggering 137 points for the Cowboys in 2022, and his longest kick was hit from 60 yards out — that automatically puts those remembering Ryan Succop’s struggles from long range at ease,” Wells added. “Maher had his best season in 2022, so it stands to reason that he could keep that play going in 2023 wherever he plays. With Succop released, that could be in Tampa Bay.”

Besides Succop’s $3.75 million salary cap hit, he didn’t hit field goals from beyond 50 yards much at all in recent years. He went 2-7 from that distance in 2022, and he made only one other field goal from that range between 2019 and 2021.

Tampa Bay still has Jake Verity on the roster. The former East Carolina standout has a 6-7 mark on field goals in two years of preseason games with the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens.

Other Kickers the Bucs Could Target

Bucs Wire proposed a few other kicks as options for the Bucs, including the Carolina PanthersZane Gonzalez, the Colts’ Chase McLaughlin, and the Green Bay PackersMason Crosby.

Crosby has the most playoff kicking experience of the three, and he has extensive experience kicking in cold weather. That could help the Bucs on the road late in the season.

“He had a good field goal percentage last year and made most of his extra points, but the biggest knock is his percentage from long range,” Wells wrote. “The Bucs likely don’t want another Succop, and seeing as how Crosby went one for four from 50 yards out in 2022, they may not want the veteran Packers kicker, either. Still, his age means that he could be had for cheap if Green Bay decides to move on.”

As for Gonzalez, he would come to Tampa Bay with a chip on his shoulder, Wells noted. The Panthers chose Eddie Piñeiro over Gonzalez due to injury in August 2022. Gonzalez “is healthy now” according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

“Accuracy is certainly not a concern, as Gonzalez’s last campaign saw him kick at over a 90% clip for the Panthers two seasons ago,” Wells wrote.

As for McLaughlin, the Bucs could find a bargain, Wells noted.

“He’s only 26, to start, so he has a lot of room to grow as a kicker where other kickers on the market might not. He has the potential — he didn’t miss an extra point in 2022, and his career-long is 57 yards,” Wells wrote. “That being said, there is some inherent risk here. His tenure with the Browns was less than stellar, and he’s still working out some growing pains when he kicks from the 40-49-yard range.”

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