Kicker Mike Nugent has decided to reject a contract offer from the Jets and will become a free agent.
"I have so much respect for the organization and my teammates, but I feel it might be time for me to move on. (General manager) Mike (Tannenbaum), (director of football operations) Ari (Nissim) and the coaches have been incredibly understanding of my decision process and I am really grateful to them."
This probably means the Jets will retain Jay Feely, who connected on 85% of his kicks, including 14 in a row to end the season in place of an injured Nugent. By the time Nugent had fully recovered from a theigh injury in Week Week 1, Feely was kicking so well that he became the starting kicker.
Feely showed he could handle the job, but this is not exactly news that should have fans doing cartwheels. Nugent is six years younger and has been pretty accurate early in his career. He is only two years removed from a season in which he missed only a 50 yard kick in the season's final 15 weeks. His leg may be below average on kickoffs, but the most important kicks are ones that put points on the board. Nugent could emerge as one of the league's more reliable in this area in the near future.
This is sure to spark another round of Terry Bradway bashing for taking Mike in the second round of the 2005 Draft only to have him walk four years later. This is not really fair. The kicking game decides seasons in football. Ask the Patriots what kind of value a kicker has. They won two of their three Super Bowls directly because of Adam Vinateri. The Jets had their 2004 season end in crushing fashion because Doug Brien was not up to the task on a pair of clutch kicks. They took Nugent because he had the ability to become one of the game's best at an important position. He still does. It will just not happen with the Jets.