Oct 6, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop (6) prepares to kick a field goal against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at LP Field. The Chiefs beat the Titans 26-17. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Succop’s Roster Spot May Not Be Secure

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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).

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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).

Yeesh.

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.

From Herbie Teope:

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.

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  • Josh Michaels

    I like this Santos kid. Succops miss against the Chargers is inexcusable. Like you said, should be a good battle at the kicker spot (really?) come training camp.

    • Ben Nielsen

      We sittin’ here, I supposed to be a blogger, and we talkin’ about kickers. Not quarterback, not a quarterback, not a quarterback, we talkin’ about kickers. *Iverson voice*

      • Josh Michaels

        Training camp has to be awesome for Kickers. They stay on one side of the field then go eat lunch. We’re in the wrong business, Ben.

        • Ben Nielsen

          Indeed. I wish I was 6-5 and could throw a football far. Then I could be Tyler Bray.

          • Josh Michaels

            Or 5’9 and throw a football accurately and kick field goals. Then you’d be Doug Flutie.

          • berttheclock

            Ah, the days of yore and George Blanda who could drop kick a FG.

        • BWrangler

          Or get picked 1st overall, be able to throw 70 yards from your knees, and show to camp 300 pounds overweight. Then you’d be JaMarcus Russell.

    • Daniel Mayfield

      Yeah, I agree. Bring him to camp and let them fight for the spot. The winner can “kick the other 1 off the roster”.

    • KCMikeG

      The complete lack of confidence our coaching staff has in his 50+ FG’s has cost us way more games than he has won. Twice alone in the playoff game vs the Colts in January. We passed on a 53 yard FG right before the half which would have resulted in a tied game instead of us being down a FG at the end. Then at the end we went for it on 4th down (and were let down by our over paid lazy WR but that’s another post) on the last play of the game instead of trying a game tying 60 yard FG. That’s enough for me to want to see some real competition for our kicker position. Isn’t there supposed to be competition at all the positions if we want to be be great again? In the last 6 seasons the following made 60+ yard FG’s – Prater, Elam, Carpenter, Brown, Zuerlin, Tucker, Feely, Bryant and Janikowski – Twice! Yet we will regularly pass on 50+ yard attempts. We need to get better at Kicker so I’m thrilled Dorsey is working across the board.

      • Michael Lizalde

        Every year, even prior to Dorsey, they have brought in kickers to training camp. All of them have had better strength on 50+ yard attempts. None of them have been able to beat out Succop. Across the NFL, the percentages go down dramatically on 50 yard field goals. It’s not a problem limited to us. We have one of the most consistent kickers in the game today. Something we shouldn’t take lightly considering we went through 5 kickers in 2 years prior to getting Succop.

        • KCMikeG

          Yes the kickers before Succop sucked but they set the bar entirely too low making him look better good. Problem is Succop’s % decline on 40+ kicks. Only four kickers missed more than he did at 40+ and only two were worse at 50+ attempts. He was 2nd to LAST in longest made AND overall % at 16 of 22 and that doesn’t even take into account how many misses our coaching staff saved him from because they didn’t have the confidence to let him try. He was #22 ranked in 2012 and #23 in 2011 and #32 in 201 missing 6 FG’s every single year. Yes there have been kickers in camp – bodies – never any real competition. Hell last year they brought in some K/P from a community college. I hope Santos is real competition because Succop consistently missing 20% or more of his kicks and leaving 18 points on the field every year for the last four years doesn’t give me any more confidence than our coaches have in him.

      • Steve Blank

        very well said. I agree…we could use a better kicker…not to mention cheaper

  • mnelson52

    I’m glad they have competition at the kicker spot. There have been too many games that we could have won if he could boot one about 10 yards farther. Any time he has to kick one more than 35, I get nervous. This new kid may have a stronger leg, but I didn’t see you mention his accuracy.

    • KCMikeG

      From the Times-Picayune: “Santos won the Lou Groza in 2012 after making 21-of-21 field goals that fall, becoming only the second kicker in NCAA history to not miss a kick.

      He played in 50 career games, scoring 312 points after hitting 61-of-78 field goals (.782) and 129-of-132 PATs (.980) while punting 15 times for 615 yards (41.0 avg) and kicking off 190 times for 11,887 yards (62.6 avg). He kicked 78 touchbacks.”

      I think this would be a major advantage virtually eliminating our opponents ability to return KO’s when combined with our already excellent coverage Toub has crafted. He was #1 in the nation last year with 75.8% of his clicks and only two not making the end zone.

      “Santos is Tulane’s most accurate kicker in history. He owns the best field goal percentage (.782) while ranking second in total points scored and points scored kicking (312), field goals made (61) and field goal attempts (78), third in PATs made (129) and PAT attempts (132), and tied for third in PAT percentage (.980).”

      Inconsistency is a concern with him going from 81% to 60% to 100% to 81% over his four last years. Also he missed 7 kicks last year with 6 of them being on the road which makes him questionable as a “dome” kicker playing in the Superdome for Tulane.

  • Michael Lizalde

    The Chiefs are not in such cap trouble that we need to save $2-3 million. Yes he is streaky. As in 20 some odd consecutive made field goals in a row. He’s made some very big kicks for us, winning some games for us. Everyone forget he is the reason we beat the Saints by making a team record field goals in one game? Kickers are always forgotten until you need them. Can’t replace what he’s done with just anyone. Everyone is replaceable, and there is always someone better. With that being said, you better make sure you replace him with someone better. Justin Medlock, Dave Rayner, John Carney, Nick Novak, Connor Barth anyone? Those are names of all the kickers the Chiefs have had in 2 seasons prior to getting Succup. We’ve had 1 since 09! You get someone to replace Succup, it better be more than because he can kick TBs and have a second longer hang time.

    • Barrie Neal Parkes Jr.

      Im sorry I don’t like succop. Do u remember the momentum shift after he missed that 41 yard field goal in the 2-14 season against atlanta in tt first game. Then there was the 16 yarder he missed against the Steelers that would have won us the game and not forced an overtime loss.

      • Michael Lizalde

        I understand that you don’t like him and I’m not going to try to change your opinion, but I must correct your misinformation. Succop has never missed a field goal under 20 yards in his career. He’s only missed 1 field goal in his career under 30 yards. In that Atlanta game, he missed a 40 yarder, but that hardly was the reason why we got demolished in that game. In the Steelers game, he did miss a 36 yarder in the 3rd quarter, but we had many offensive opportunities to break that 10-10 tie. However, he did nail a 46 yarder with 2 seconds on the clock and no time outs, in 30 MPH wind and freezing rain, to put the game into overtime. He also hit a team record 6 field goals in the game against the Saints that same season to win the game. He also made 82% of his kicks that season, ranking in the top 5 in the NFL.

        • Barrie Neal Parkes Jr.

          Sorry for my 17 yard mistake. I was at the game and it looked like 16 yards to me and I never looked it up but that being said he still should have made it

          • Michael Lizalde

            I was at that game as well. Front row, North endzone. Wind was coming out of the South at gust of 30 MPH. Freezing rain. Succop missed kicking into the wind. Have to say that anytime a kicker kicks, they should make it, but also have to say, if they miss how do they follow that up. He follows that up by nailing a game tying 46 yarder. It’s perfectly fine that you don’t want him on our team. His play is a puzzling reason why though………

  • Priest4Prez

    Succop fan, right here. Keep him…c’mon man

  • Andy

    I wish Elliott would have made just one more field goal.

    • KCMikeG

      You mean the kicker who shall remain nameless don’t you?

  • Stan Colbert

    Santos is a soccer player. His rep. is strong on kickoffs not the most accurate on field goals. He needs to fix that.

  • tmahawk

    The one guy I’d love be to get ride of. Kickers should always be worried about their job.

  • tmahawk

    Cutt him . he lost us a couple games last yr

  • BWrangler

    Kickers are one of the “what have you done for me lately” positions that I can part with. I like Succop, but I think there’s always somebody out there with a bigger, more accurate leg that’s probably coming out of college. Make him kick for it.

    • Troy Utt

      BW, Considering all of the emphasis KC put into that last pick when they grabbed him. It was a shot in the dark anyway…
      I personally have always liked Succup, when he’s good he’s good!
      But when he’s bad, he’s very bad… I guess camp will tell???

  • Blaize Richardson

    Having a strong leg is great, but it doesn’t mean much if the ball doesn’t go through the uprights. I love competition and if he earns the roster spot, because he’s a better kicker than Succup, than that’s great, but I don’t think he should just be handed a roster spot, because he’s cheaper and has a stronger leg.

    Succup may not be great, but he’s not the worst kicker in the league either. If we really want to replace him, I think there will be better options in the draft next year, with all the picks we should have. I could be wrong and Cairo Santos could turn out to be a great kicker and if that happens, that would be awesome, but lets not sit here and act like Succup is chopped liver.

  • Steve Blank

    he has been average…but if we can replace him with a stronger leg for less money…lets do it…if this new guy flounders we can always bring Succop back…its not like some other team is going to snap him up