The New York Jets have had their fair share of kicking woes over the years. None more so than during the 2020 season.
Gang Green played musical chairs with three different players: Sam Ficken, Chase McLaughlin, and Sergio Castillo.
It’s been a revolving door at the position since the team moved on from Jason Myers in 2018 following a Pro Bowl season. Myers finished with a franchise-best 91.7 percent conversation rate (33-of-36) and also was 30-of-33 on extra-point attempts in that season.
Since leaving the Jets, Myers has been electric for the Seattle Seahawks.
He’s converted 47-of-52 of his field-goal attempts for a 90 percent conversion rate. That includes his perfect season in 2020 in which he went a seamless 24-of-24. The 29-year old signed a four-year deal for $15.4 million which included a $4 million signing bonus and $7 million fully guaranteed back in 2019.
Although the Jets seem to have a ton of optimism about an undrafted gem they signed following the 2021 NFL draft.
“Very excited about him and giving Chris Naggar a chance,” head coach Robert Saleh said. “Brant Boyer did a lot of work on him. We’re giving him the opportunity to come in and compete for that job. That’s a real deal and it’s going to be fun to watch.”
Who Is Chris Naggar?
The green and white added 12 undrafted free agents including former SMU kicker Chris Naggar.
Naggar was a bit of a one-year wonder in college. After spending time with the Texas Longhorns rotting away on the bench, he finally got a chance albeit as a punter. After a solid campaign, he transferred over and joined the Mustangs to get a real opportunity as a placekicker.
In his lone season at SMU, Naggar showed some real chutzpah converting 17-of-21 attempts good for an 81 percent conversion rate. The 23-year old also displayed versatility as a punter with a career year in punts (29), yardage (1,140), and average distance (39.3) as a senior.
Something that certainly intrigued the Jets was his monster leg, especially when you consider the weather conditions in the northeast.
On social media, Naggar flexed his leg power with a 71-yard bomb that went viral:
“…bUt thErE wAs WiND”
71 yards. 🎥: @BCarringtonUT pic.twitter.com/WyQSXUvqfu
— Chris Naggar (@chrisnaggar) December 29, 2019
Training Camp Battle to Watch
The Jets were so impressed with Naggar that they were willing to move on from veteran Chase McLaughlin. This leaves only two kickers on the roster to duke it out for the starting job ahead of OTAs (offseason training activities) and training camp in late July.
Ficken is the incumbent starter from 2020. He’s spent the last two years with the green and white with middling results. The former Penn State star is a combined 32-of- 42 for a conversion rate of 76 percent during that time span. That would’ve ranked No. 27 in the NFL last season among the 33 kickers who qualified.
In other words, the Jets brass has been underwhelmed by the Ficken era and they’re ready for a change. It’ll be up to Naggar to seize the moment though, nothing will be given.
The position battle will start during OTAs next week and will run through training camp and into the preseason. Moving forward the preseason will only be three weeks long as opposed to the traditional four weeks, which means even less opportunity to impress.