The Los Angeles Chargers desperately need to fix their kicking situation. Will the signing of Roberto Aguayo help?
Kicking was the Chargers’ Achilles’ heel in 2017.
It cost them the first two games of the season. You can even say it was the primary reason why the Chargers missed the playoffs.
Los Angeles finished dead last in field-goal percentage (66.7). They also hit just 37-of-42 extra points, the third-worst mark in the league. The Giants, who finished with the second-worst field-goal percentage, made 72 percent of their field goals. That says a lot about how awful the Chargers’ unit was.
Five players attempted at least one kick (field goal or extra point) this season: Younghoe Koo, Nick Novak, Drew Kaser (yes, the punter), Travis Coons and Nick Rose. Koo and Coons were cut, Novak, who was placed on injured reserve, will become an unrestricted free agent and Rose, who was claimed off waivers after signing a two-year deal with Washington, is currently on the books for the 2018 season (no guarantee he stays).
Head coach Anthony Lynn was hesitant on sending out a kicker when the team had a chance at a long field goal. That’s how you lose games.
General manager Tom Telesco took the blame, saying one of his biggest regrets this past season was not finding a suitable kicker for Lynn, but that he’s “very confident we’ll be able to get that fixed,” via Los Angles Times’ Dan Woike.
Well, the Chargers already made a move, signing former Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo to a reserve/future deal.
Aguayo, who was Tampa Bay’s second-round pick in 2016, connected on just 71 percent of field goals his rookie season. He was infamous for missing kicks left and right–and even called out for it by teammates–in the latest edition of HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks,’ a documentary series that follows a team throughout training camp. It ultimately cost Aguayo his job. He spent time with the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers following his release from the Bucs but did not attempt a single kick in 2017.
Was this the right move by the Chargers?
It can’t hurt to give Aguayo another chance. The 23-year-old needs to focus and rebuild confidence; it’s the only way he’ll thrive under pressure. It was just a few years ago that Aguayo was considered one of the best kickers in college football. Actually, he’s still the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, as he left Florida State (2013-15) having connected on 96.7 percent of his kicks (88.8 percent of FGs and 100 percent on PATs).
At the same time, the Chargers don’t have time to mess around. They need to find a short- and long-term solution at the position.
And there are some decent options on the 2018 free-agent market. Perhaps they bring in a veteran like Graham Gano, Matt Bryant, Adam Vinatieri or Ryan Succop, who all played in at least 15 games and hit no less than 83 percent of their field goals this past season. Younger players like Caleb Sturgis, Cairo Santos, Chandler Catanzaro and Dustin Hopkins are also unrestricted free agents. Drafting a kicker late could make sense, too.