The Los Angeles Chargers have been through the wringer at the kicker position.
On Thursday night against the Raiders, Michael Badgley went 1-3 on field-goal attempts, missing his league-leading ninth field goal of the season.
While any job in the NFL is never safe, the one of kicker seems to be the least secure of them all. New kickers in the league fans have never heard of every season, and then the next season, they are out of the league again. In the case of Michael Badgley, the question looming over fans’ minds is, why does he still have a job?
From 2005-2014, the Chargers had two kickers on their roster, which is extremely impressive given the position’s lack of job security. Nate Kaeding from 2005-2011 and then Nick Novak from 2011-2014. The four years between Novak leaving and Badgley arriving, a carousel of kickers went in and out of the Chargers doors.
In no particular order Josh Lambo, Caleb Sturgis, Chase McLaughlin, Travis Coons, Nick Rose and even Nick Novak returned for a few games. In the four years. Let’s not forget that arguably the best kicker in the NFL this season, Younghoe Koo, was cut by the Chargers at the start of 2018.
Then finally October 11th, 2018, the Chargers brought in an undrafted rookie from the University of Miami by the name of Michael Badgley. Badgley was simply money in his first, hitting all but one field goal attempt, including a Chargers franchise-record 59-yard field goal.
Badgley was a star for the Chargers not only on the field but off. Nicknamed the “Money Badger,” Badgley was all over the Charger’s social media. He was a fan favorite, and it looked like the Chargers had finally solved their kicking problems.
Then problems began. Badgley missed half of the 2019 season with an injury. When he was healthy, Badgley only missed three field goals, a decline from the last season of work. Then 2020 happened, this year has been a disaster for Badgley. He has let the team down week after week and is a significant part of why the Chargers have lost so many close games.
Kicking is critical to a team’s success. Look at the top teams in the NFL this season. They all have good kickers. The Kanas City Chiefs have Harrison Butker. The Green Bay Packers have Mason Crosby. The New Orleans Saints have Will Lutz.
The list goes on. The Los Angeles Chargers were 12-4 the year Badgley was great. Since Badgley’s decline, the chargers record has declined. That’s not a coincidence.
The kicking game is an obvious red flag in the Chargers’ fairly well-rounded roster. It needs to be fixed before the Chargers can win big and make a run in the playoffs. Badgley is an RFA after this season.
Do the Los Angeles Chargers bring him back on a very short leash next season, or do they risk having another stretch of weekly kicking tryouts? Who knows, it’s just another question heading into an exciting offseason for the Los Angeles Chargers.