Since the NFL-AFL merger, the longest field goal kicked had been accomplished by only two men over a span of 41 years. Tom Dempsey held the record first in 1970 until Jason Elam also kicked a 63-yard field goal in 1998. In the last 3 seasons, that record was achieved twice – Sebastian Janikowski in 2011 and David Akers in 2012. However, last season, Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos set a new record 64-yard field goal just before halftime in a game against the Tennessee Titans. These kickers have been rated based on field goals kicked versus their 2013 salary according to OvertheCap.com.
Despite the NFL being a pass-dominated sport, kickers have become more of a topic of conversation over the last five years. Since the National Football League was established, there have even been Super Bowl games that came down to kicking a field goal on the last play of the game. And one kicker on this list owns the prestigious title of being the only player to kick two game-winning Super Bowl field goals. According to NFL.com, during the 2013-2014 NFL regular season, every single team either lost or won at least one game by 3 points or less. With 63 close-scoring games, nearly 25% of them came down to at least a field goal.
There were 863 field goals made across the league during the 2013 regular season. That’s 2,589 points scored only by placekickers. However, there were also 998 field goal attempts resulting in 405 points that never made it to the scoreboard. Over the history of the National Football League, there have been numerous occasions where a kicker proves just how valuable his position is – and, even more so, how much 3 points can mean on any given Sunday. The following 11 men (unfortunately, there is one tie) have proven exactly how costly one field goal can cost – on and off the field. These men are typically the best, and in turn the best compensated, men for the job.
10 Jay Feely, Arizona Cardinals - $50,000
Jay Feely is entering the last few years of his career. Having joined the NFL in 2001, Feely made his professional debut with the Atlanta Falcons prior to playing with three other teams before finding his home in Arizona. Jay Feely signed a 2-year contract for $2,500,000 plus a $500,000 signing bonus with the Cardinals back in 2011. After 13 years in the NFL, Feely is now an unrestricted free agent. In 2013, he made 30 of 36 attempted field goals ending the season with 83.3% completion percentage. Feely made $1,500,000 finishing up his contract with the Cardinals and just made the cut on our list of costly kickers.
9 Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals - $55,555
Mike Nugent is an experienced kicker having played for the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals during his 10-year professional football career. Nugent made his debut with the Cincinnati Bengals back in 2010 and has consistently proven his value. His current contract is a 2-year deal for $3,500,000 which merited a $1,000,000 base salary during the 2013 season. Nugent made 18 of 22 attempted field goals last season which earned his position at #9 on our list with $55,555 per field goal made.
8 Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts - $57,142
Adam Vinatieri is our most seasoned NFL kicker having spent the first 10 years of his career with the New England Patriots and the last 8 years with the Indianapolis Colts. He went 35 for 40 field goal attempts last season and now enters the 2014 off-season as an unrestricted free agent. VInatieri had been under a 3-year contract for $9,200,000 with a signing bonus of $3,600,000 for the Indianapolis Colts and made $2,000,000 in the 2013 season. While Vinatieri may be close to retirement, he is clearly still a highly viable asset.
7 Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots - $65,789
Stephen Gostkowski is entering the final year of his 5-year, $15,759,000 contract with the New England Patriots. Last season, Gostkowski was 38 for 41 field goal attempts, with his longest reaching 54 yards during the regular season. Since the Patriots lost Adam Vinatieri in 2005, Gostkowski has stepped up and proven to be a sound replacement over the last 8 years. He is expected to make $2.9 million dollars next season and will face contract negotiations as his current contract expires at the end of the 2014 season.
6 Rob Bironas, Tennessee Titans - $82,000
Rob Bironas moved around a fair amount during his first 3 years in the National Football League. Eventually, he found solid ground in Tennessee and has been re-signed on generally short-term contracts over the last 9 seasons. Last season, Bironas went 25 for 29 to secure a 86.2% field goal percentage. He made $2,050,000 last season and will pocket at least the remaining $2,875,000 of his contract during the 2014 season.
5 Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears - $93,269
Despite being the 2nd highest paid kicker in the league, Robbie Gould falls in the middle of the pack on our list. Another veteran kicker, Gould jumped around for a brief period prior to signing with the Chicago Bears in 2005. In 2008, Gould signed a $15.5 million contract that would keep him in a Bears jersey through the 2013 season. At the conclusion of this past season, Gould signed his second mega contract with the Bears, reportedly a 4-year, $15 million deal with a $3 million signing bonus. Gould pocketed $2,425,000 last season and went 26 for 29 on attempted field goals. Gould will start the 2014 season under his new contract that guarantees a hefty paycheck and job security through the 2017 season.
4 Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons & Matt Prater, Denver Broncos - $100,000
Like the Packers-Vikings match-up from Week 12 of the 2013 regular season, we find ourselves facing the dreadful tie. Matt Bryant of the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos both pocketed $100,000 per field goal made last season and their shared first names is only the tip of the iceberg when you look at this match-up.
Both Kicker’s are currently under 4-year contracts, but Bryant’s contract is a $10.7 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons while Prater’s contract is a $13 million deal with the Denver Broncos. Bryant went 24 for 27 on his field goal attempts with the 4-12 Falcons while Prater only missed one of 26 attempts with the 13-3 Broncos last season. Despite the stark difference between their win-loss record last season, Matt Bryant and Matt Prater panned out pretty evenly last season which left them both with a $100,000 per field goal paycheck. For those of you that think a tie in a professional sports is an abomination… who holds the record for longest field goal in NFL history?
3 Josh Scobee, Jacksonville Jaguars - $101,086
Josh Scobee was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2004 NFL Draft and pocketed $2,325,000 during the 10th season of his tenured career. Halfway through a 4-year, $13.8 million contract, Scobee went 23 for 25 on field goal attempts with 22 PAT. With a 92% field goal completion, Scobee’s paycheck per field goal made will only increase through the expiration of his contract. Despite the Jaguars dismal 4-12 record last season, Scobee maintained 100% field goal completion for the first 10 weeks of the regular season and finished the season with 13 games with a 100% field goal completion.
2 Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders - $166,666
Sebastian Janikowski signed with the Oakland Raiders back in 2000. making 2013 his 15th year in the National Football League. Janikowski has only missed 4 regular season games throughout his career and last season he went 21 for 30 on field goal attempts. Prior to the start of last season, Janikowski signed a 4-year contract extension with the Raiders reportedly worth $15.1 million. Last season, Janikowski made a base salary of $3.5 million with a $1.46 million signing bonus. Janikowski has had some ups and downs throughout his career, but seems to have long since found a home in California.
1 Shayne Graham, New Orleans Saints - $470,000
No, Shayne Graham has not flown under every sports fan’s radar for 10 years, if you think he must be Superman to make that much money. Shayne Graham signed with the New Orleans Saints during the summer before the 2000 NFL regular season and played for 9 different teams in the league before returning to Louisiana. Graham made $940,000 with the Saints in 2013 and signed an extension contract for 1 year worth $955,000. So how did Shayne Graham make over $300,000 more than the second highest-paid placekicker per field goal? Graham went 2 for 2 field attempts leaving him with one hefty paycheck and the only 100% field goal completion on the list