This training camp, there has been a “kicking competition” between veteran Cairo Santos and rookie Matt Gay for the Buccaneers, but the bluff is obvious.
Can we quit pretending there is a kicking competition happening with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers already? This thing, being called a competition, was wrapped up the moment the Buccaneers used a fifth round pick to select Utah kicker Matt Gay.
After a successful career at the University of Utah, where Gay went a career 56 of 65, the Buccaneers have hoped that he could solve the kicking woes that have existed in Tampa Bay since the release of Matt Bryant. Thus far he has not disappointed as he has been booming kicks in practice, and he nailed a 55 yard field goal on Friday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
His so called competitor for the Buccaneers’ kicking job is Cairo Santos, who the Buccaneers re-signed to a one-year deal this offseason after replacing Chandler Catanzaro in 2018. In his seven game span in Tampa Bay last season, Santos went nine of 12 on his kicks, but all three of his misses came from 40 yards or longer.
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Considering Gay went four of four from 50 plus in yesterday’s practice alone, it should not be super shocking to hear that this fabricated kicking competition is just to raise the level of play of their rookie kicker. He made consecutive kicks from 50, 55, 59, then 61 yards yesterday as the Buccaneers prepare for the Miami Dolphins in this week’s preseason matchup.
After the debacle of 2016 when general manager Jason Licht traded up to select Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round just to cut him only one year later, the Gayy pick in the fifth round felt like deja vu to many. While selecting a special teamer at all, even with a day three pick is not advised, Gay seems to be paying off splendidly for the Buccaneers.
"“Kickers who are drafted in the fifth round or earlier have a leg up on their competition. In the past 20 drafts, teams have taken a kicker in the first five rounds 17 times. Only two of those kickers didn’t make it to the regular season with their original team.” (Thomas Bassinger via Tampa Bay Times)"
At the end of the day, Santos has had not shot of winning the kicking job and will be looking for his fifth city to kick in. As Gay continues to win the job that has been given to him months ago, we wish Santos the best of luck wherever he lands next.