Let’s talk about kickers.*Mass exodus begins*
Ryan Succop has been the kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs since being selected as Mr. Irrelevant in the 2009 draft. Since then he’s become the most second most accurate kicker in Chiefs history, connecting on 81% of his field goals.
This still hasn’t stopped fan resentment of Succop, who is sometimes labeled as streaky and prone to missed important kicks. It is common enough for his nickname on Wikipedia to not be so flattering (or pulled by Wikipedia).
The most important issue with Succop is his lack of leg strength, which is seen frequently in distance field goal attempts and on kickoffs. Succop ranked 30th out of 32 in 50+ yard field goal percentage, 23rd in hang time on kickoffs, and 18th in average starting field position.
In reference to the average starting field position ranking, remember the Chiefs had one of the best coverage units in all of football. Ranking 18th with that unit is not positive for Succop. Adding to the mix is the Chiefs desire to have excellent special teams. Andy Reid dedicated a lot of practice time to perfecting the unit and hired the best special teams coach in football to teach them. One would think the Chiefs would want a better guy handling kickoffs.
Succop also ranked 23rd in field goal percentage for field goals attempted between 40-49 yards, and his extra point/field goal grade ranked 28th out of 32 kickers. Yes, Succop is one of the more accurate kickers in Chiefs history, but he is not a modern weapon in the NFL’s kicking game. Consider that 12 of the top 16 most accurate field goal kickers in NFL history are still active, with one of the two non-active kickers – Nate Kaeding – being out of football for just one year. Then consider Succop ranks 31st all-time in field goal kicking accuracy, behind former Chiefs kickers Lawrence Tynes (24) and Connor Barth (10).
Then there is the aspect of Succop’s contract. By average annual value, Succop is the 12 highest paid kicker in the NFL. He’ll occupy about $2.7 million in cap space in 2014 and $3.5 million in 2015. Is Succop good enough to occupy such a high cap number, especially when the Chiefs are tight on cap space?
Cutting Succop before the start of the season doesn’t open up a lot of space for the 2014 salary cap, which seems to be all the rage when it comes to trying to get contract extensions down with Justin Houston and Alex Smith. What it does do is open up $3.5 million in savings for 2015, a number that could be come very valuable when it comes to trying to find some wiggle room without having to lose key contributors.
As always, it should be noted that if you’re going to cut someone then you need to have a player ready to replace him. Enter Cairo Santos.
Rookie kicker Cairo Santos has a strong leg and consistently placed the ball in the back end of the end zone during special teams kickoff drills. Things could get interesting in training camp in a kicker battle between Santos and Ryan Succop.
Is Santos a viable option for the Chiefs? I have no clue. But Santos appears to have done enough already to turn some heads, and there is room for improvement on the roster at the kicker position. Succop has some work to do if he wants to stay on the roster.