A few years ago, the Los Angeles Rams held a kicker competition between three players who were fighting to replace Greg Zuerlein. What Sean McVay eventually found out is that if you have three kickers, you have no kickers. Not only had the Rams cut all three by the middle of the season, he also had to replace his fourth option until getting to Matt Gay late in the 2020 campaign. Perhaps that is why McVay has decided not to use more than one of the 90-man roster spots on an unproven kicker, undrafted free agent Tanner Brown, rather than having an open competition at training camp.
After all, McVay will have over a dozen kickers to choose from by September after half of the NFL has made final decisions on their own kicker competitions.
I read an interesting observation from Broncos head coach Sean Payton last week when he noted that Denver might not end up choosing between either of their two kickers in camp, Brett Maher and Elliott Fry. That when he was with the Saints, he held a kicker competition once only to end up trading for a different kicker before the season. His best Saints kicker, Will Lutz, who is in a competition right now against Blake Grupe, was picked up on waivers from the Ravens in 2016.
Right now, the Rams only have Tanner Brown in camp but that doesn’t mean that Sean McVay has to choose him as the team’s kicker. In fact, instead of comparing Brown to one or two other kickers in camp, he’s actually comparing him to at least two dozen kickers around the NFL right now: There are 16 teams in the league that currently employ two kickers.
Veterans who are currently kicking against unproven players include Nick Folk of the Patriots, Chris Boswell of the Steelers, Brandon McManus of the Jaguars, Maher, Dustin Hopkins on the Chargers, Joey Slye is battling Michael Badgley on the Commanders, Cairo Santos on the Bears, Riley Patterson on the Lions, Greg Joseph on the Vikings, Younghoe Koo on the Falcons, Lutz on the Saints, Chase McLaughlin vs. Rodrigo Blankenship on the Bucs, and Zane Gonzalez on the 49ers.
In fact, Matt Gay isn’t even the only kicker on the Colts roster. He’s going to win that job, but Indianapolis also has Lucas Havrisik.
By the time final cuts are announced, there will be at least 16 more kickers on the open market. Some of them might also have great camps but simply not as good as the other kicker on the same roster.
As we saw in 2020, Gay didn’t make a roster and he was available late in the season to be added to the Rams.
So while Tanner Brown appears to be streamlined for a job with the 2023 Rams, he’s actually under a lot more pressure than he would be if he was simply going against one other kicker. He’s going against over a dozen.