After spending years chasing place-kickers, drafting them, bringing in free agents, what have you, the Bucs, like the proverbial blind pig, finally found their perfect acorn and need to sign Ryan Succop now or risk another fiasco looking for his replacement.
Billed as Mr. Irrelevant in 2009, which comes with being the last pick of the NFL Draft, Succop’s career has been anything but irrelevant. Coming off a down year, Succop faced the 2020 season with no place to play except in his own backyard. Things likely looked bleak. But then, as if from God, he gets a call from Jason Licht and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Hey, Ryan. You busy?” – Jason might have said.
“No, not really. Just folding clothes and putting them away,” Ryan might have answered.
“Want to come to Tampa and kick some pig skins?”
“Why not, I got nothing else to do anyway.”
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A flight, an Uber, and there you have it: Tampa finds a top-tier kicker in the waning moments of the before-season. Not the preseason like you’re probably thinking about, but that blip on the radar that the National Football League called the time leading up to the first game of the 2020 season.
What can a person do with only a week before getting ready for some football?
How about knock out Matt Gay for the kicking role, and then tee off his Buccaneers career by closing out the season with arguably the best statistics of any former Bucs placekicker. So, even though Tampa didn’t draft him back in 2009, Succop was able to come into town and quiet down the crowds of Buccaneer fans who were calling for Jason’ scalp over picking kickers in the upper rounds of the draft: 28 of 31 field goals, 52 of 57 extra points and a Buccaneer record 136 points total.
But in truth, and on Jason’s behalf, Jason was not the first General Manager whoever “wasted” a high round draft pick on a placekicker. And, it isn’t like the ones he chose didn’t come with good pedigrees. It’s just that when it fails, as it did twice, it becomes a burr under the saddle for all of fandom.