Buccaneers to bring in competition for kicker Roberto Aguayo

ByJenna Laine ESPN logo
Monday, January 2, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said he will bring in competition at the kicking position after a season in which he felt the team's field goal percentage was simply not good enough.

"We've got to have competition at every position," Koetter said Monday. "Nothing's given and if they're not the best player, then I can be pretty certain in saying that they won't be out there."

The Bucs traded back into the second round of the 2016 draft to select kicker Roberto Aguayo out of Florida State with the 59th overall pick. He became the highest-drafted kicker since Mike Nugent went 47th overall to the New York Jets in 2005. The move was widely criticized.

Aguayo's struggles this year were well-documented. He made 22 of 31 field goal attempts his rookie season, which at 71 percent was the lowest among kickers in the NFL. His four field goals from 40-49 yards out were tied for 25th in the league, and he made just 4 of 10 attempts from 40-plus yards. He did have some strong performances, too, including a Week 11 win against the Kansas City Chiefsin which he hit four field goals, earning him NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

"[General manager] Jason [Licht] and I have already talked, and I think it's already proven that we have no problem moving on from a draft choice and playing somebody that wasn't drafted. We did it this year. We did it a year ago," Koetter said.

The Bucs parted ways with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a second-round draft pick, in favor of starting Cameron Brate. But Seferian-Jenkins' dismissal wasn't based on performance; it was for off-the-field issues stemming from a drunken driving arrest.

Aguayo, a Groza Award winner and the most accurate kicker in college football history, spoke to ESPN prior to Koetter's announcement. He described his rookie season as an eye-opening experience.

"When you come in as a rookie, you don't think you know it all, but at the same time, you're like, 'I got here. I'll do whatever got me here so I guess I'm good enough,'" Aguayo said. "But in the NFL, it's a different league. You're not in college. You can't get by with what you did in college. It's a different league. You're with the best of the best. Sometimes you think it's easy, and you realize that it's not and you've got to do something better, do something more."

The transition from kicking at Florida State, where he wasn't the sole contributor for points and was surrounded by blue-chip talent, compared to playing for the Bucs, who struggled at times to move the ball offensively, was a huge change.

Aguayo was one of five kickers in the NFL this year not to attempt a field goal from 50 yards out. His longest of the season was from 43 yards, while his longest at Florida State was from 53. Koetter, however, said it wasn't due to a lack of confidence in him.

"They just didn't come up," Koetter said.

"As far as Roberto goes and where we picked him, we were all on board with that," said Koetter. "That's not gonna change. We're never gonna bring that back. That happened. Roberto was our kicker, like any other player, if he's got that Buc jersey on and he's out there on game day, then I'm 100 percent in. With that said, our field goal percentage this year was not good enough. Now that's not the only stat that wasn't good enough, but it wasn't good enough."