5 kickers that should be on the Cleveland Browns radar

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Cleveland Browns

Nov 7, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams kicker Matt Gay (8) follows through on a field goal out of the hold of punter Johnny Hekker (6) against the Tennessee Titans at SoFi Stadium. The Titans defeated the Rams 28-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Much like quarterbacks, the Cleveland Browns have been searching for a kicker for quite some time now and should look to add one of these five kickers.

You can ask any number of people about whether or not kicking in the NFL is important and you will surely get a mixed reaction. When it comes down to it, if you don’t have a quality kicker, that changes your game plan.

In the case of the Cleveland Browns, they have been searching for a kicker to replace Phil Dawson ever since he left for San Francisco back in 2012. There have been plenty of games in that time the Browns could have, should have, would have won had they just had a competent placekicker to boot the ball between the posts.

From the time that Dawson left, there has been a huge hole that Cleveland just hasn’t been able to fill. In that span, the Browns have used 11 different kickers, with none of them starting in consecutive seasons. That will likely be the case again in 2022 as Chase McLaughlin has likely kicked his last ball while wearing brown and orange.

McLaughlin was money to start the season, converting all nine of his field goals, including two from beyond 50-yards, and all 17 of his extra-point attempts. Then Week 7 came where his missed his first field goal of the season due to it being blocked by a Broncos defender.

In Weeks 9, 11, 12, 14, 15 he missed a field goal and in Week 11 he missed his lone extra-point (36/37) of the season. He finished 15-of-21 on field goals, which isn’t necessarily bad, but that is such a low number of field-goal tries. Part of the reason for the low totals is the fact that Kevin Stefanski elects to go for it on fourth down a lot, eliminating a field goal try. Is this due to Stefanski not trusting McLaughlin or is it strictly analytical?

General manager Andrew Berry said in his press conference on Tuesday that he wouldn’t rule out drafting a kicker in the upcoming NFL Draft in April.

“I would consider anything. My reaction to that is not any hard and fast rule. It probably depends on the player, and it depends on other ways you can acquire talent at the position. No, I would not rule it out,” Berry said.

I don’t see this as an option as there are quality free agent kickers available or about to be available, but Berry is also a lot smarter than me.

Quarterbacks get all of the love for game-winning drives, and rightfully so most of the time, but kickers need love too for when they knock home a kick that results in a victory. From a Browns perspective, look at how many games the rival Ravens have won off the foot of Justin Tucker and where that has led them. If the Browns could find their own Justin Tucker, it would change quite a bit.

The good thing about trying to acquire a kicker is they are relatively cheap, so they don’t affect the salary cap much.

Here are a few free-agent kickers that the Browns should look into in the upcoming offseason.

Cleveland Browns kicker option No. 5: Matt Gay

This will be hard to pull off as Matt Gay is a restricted free agent, which means the Rams can match any offer the Browns would send. It is likely that this option won’t be available as Gay is coming off a Pro Bowl season. He has connected on 32-of-34 field goals (94.1 percent) and he ranked second in the NFL in percentage. He also nailed 48-of-49 extra-point attempts, good enough for 98 percent.

He was a kicker that was drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he spent his first NFL season, playing in seven games. The Rams signed him last year off the Colts practice squad.

He would be a massive upgrade to McLaughlin in Cleveland, but would he want to leave sunny Los Angeles for cold and miserable Cleveland?

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