“It never even crossed my mind. I never even considered that was a possibility.”
Those were the words uttered from special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg when asked if he’s thought about Sunday perhaps being the last time Justin Tucker kicks in Baltimore as a member of the Ravens.
Tucker, the second-fastest kicker in NFL history to reach the 400-point milestone, will be a pending free agent once the final whistle blows on Sunday in the Ravens season finale against the Bengals.
While it’s way too early to assume the Ravens will part ways with the undrafted former Texas Longhorn who in just four seasons became the most accurate kicker in NFL history (89.81% on 97-of-108 kicking with a minimum of 100 attempts).
Solid throughout his tenure here in Baltimore, Tucker once again put up incredible numbers in 2015 regarding kicks made from inside 49 yards where he was successful 27 times out of 28 attempts. His success rate from 50 yards and beyond is concerning.
Tucker is just three of nine on field goal conversions from 50 yards or more in 2015, just one year removed from connecting on 4 of 9 field goals from the same distance in 2014, per ESPN Stats.
“No, I don’t think there’s necessarily a change that needed to happen,” said Rosburg if that was an area in which they tinkered with to improve over the final weeks of the season. “That kick that he made on Sunday, not only was it a crucial kick in the game, [but] that was a hard kick. That was one of the toughest kicks he has had all year long, and it made it that much more satisfying that he hit it so well.”
Tucker’s 50-yard field goal extended the Ravens lead to 13-3 just before halftime against the Steelers last Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, a place where he’s struggled from that distance for much of the year hitting just one field goal out of six attempts, not exactly a stat you want in a contract year.
“The winds were really hard. They were unpredictable, and he picked a very tight spot – tight window – and he hit it right exactly there,” said Rosburg about the clutch kick. “It really helped. It helped. You saw how excited he was that he made it. It was a big kick, and it was a hard kick. You make those kinds of kicks, it gives you confidence.
“As far as working on more of those and having any different technique, no, we haven’t done that. His technique is sound. Some kicks he has kicked well, and they haven’t gone in. Some kicks he hasn’t kicked so well. That one on Sunday – he nailed that one.”
While it’s early to predict what direction the Ravens will take with Tucker, the organization is unlikely to let him escape in the upcoming free agency frenzy this offseason. Talks will transpire and hopefully the two sides can come to an agreement to keep the opera singing, Dr. Pepper drinking, fan favorite in town for the next few years.
“If we have to cast a ballot – cast a vote – at the box, I’m voting, ‘Yes, keep him.’ Absolutely.” said Rosburg.
Another option is always the franchise tag and given how there are far more holes to fill on the roster in 2016 they may opt to tag Tucker and let him prove 2015 was just an anomaly in a down year for him and the Ravens.
Early projections of the franchise tag amount for kickers in 2016 is around $4,534,000, per CBS sports.
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