The Cleveland Browns should consider a Phil Dawson reunion
The Cleveland Browns could look to add competition at kicker this off-season, and bringing back Phil Dawson should be under consideration.
When the Cleveland Browns let Phil Dawson leave in free agency following the 2012 season, it caused an uproar in the Dawg Pound. Dawson was a Cleveland legend and was the last remaining player from when the team returned to Cleveland in 1999.
In 2013, the Browns front office, led by Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi, were looking to add younger players. With the team once again rebuilding, Banner and Lombardi felt it was time to replace Dawson, who turned 38-years-old that off-season.
Despite the Browns letting Dawson walk in free agency, it was not because he turned in a poor final season in a Cleveland uniform. In 2012, Dawson made 29 of 31 field goal attempts, including a long of 53 yards.
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Dawson turned 44-years-old in January and is certainly in the final years of his career. However, he is still kicking well, despite kicking for 20 seasons in the NFL. Since the beginning of the 2015 season, Dawson has made 79 of 96 kicks for a 82.3 make percentage and a long of 57 yards. He has also made 91 of 96 extra points for a 94.8 make percentage. 2015 was the first season extra points were being kicked from the 15-yard line.
And even after kicking in a dome for the last two seasons, Dawson has still kicked well outdoors. Since 2015, he has made 84.8 percent of his kicks outdoors. His longest made kick outdoors was 53 yards.
Dawson only attempted eight kicks in 2018, making five, after suffering a hip injury. He was placed on injured reserve in November.
Although he is not kicking like he was before his final season in Cleveland, Dawson is still kicking good enough to create a competition with current Browns kicker Greg Joseph, who will be entering his second season.
Joseph had a solid first season with the Browns, making 17 of 20 field goals, including a long of 51 yards. He also made 25 of 29 of his extra points. Although he made most of his field goals, his inconsistency with extra points was concerning.
By signing Dawson to a contract, it gives Joseph a chance to learn from a veteran – Dawson also knows the winds off Lake Erie very well. But having Dawson compete with Joseph will also help bring the best out of the young kicker.
If Joseph struggles and Dawson wins the starting kicker job, Dawson would have an opportunity to show that he can still kick through the Lake Erie winds. It would also excite the Browns fan base considering Dawson is a fan favorite of the Dawg Pound. He may not be the kicker he was the last time he wore the brown and orange, but having him compete with Joseph could help the Browns get the best out of whoever their kicker will be.