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Lions Exploring Kicker Options

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Since the departure of Matt Prater following the 2020 NFL season, the Lions have struggled to find consistency at the placekicking position. Twice, Michael Badgley has come to their rescue with admirable results, and although he’s set to return in 2024, Detroit continues to explore all its options.

Badgley initially aided the Lions in 2022, joining the team’s practice squad in early October and earning a promotion to the active roster three weeks later. After the team parted ways with Austin Seibert, Badgley assumed the role and performed well. Throughout the year, Badgley made 20 of 24 field goal attempts and was perfect on all 33 extra point attempts. Despite being re-signed for the 2023 season, Badgley was released in July.

Subsequently, the team went with Riley Patterson last season. Patterson had a solid performance in 13 games, missing only two of 17 field goal attempts. However, after missing two extra point attempts in a short period, the Lions released him in favor of Badgley, who had been on the practice squad all along.

Once again, Badgley delivered what the Lions needed. Although he missed two extra point attempts in his four regular-season games, Badgley was perfect on four field goals. During the team’s run to the NFC Championship Game, he maintained a flawless record on field goals and extra points. Despite his consistency, Badgley was rarely tested in crucial moments, as coach Dan Campbell often opted for alternative strategies in long field goal situations.

The sole alternative currently on the roster is James Turner, an undrafted rookie from Michigan. Turner’s collegiate career exhibited inconsistent performance, with a notable 8 missed field goals and 2 missed extra points in his sophomore season at Louisville. With limited long-distance capabilities, Turner may not fulfill Campbell’s requirements.

The veteran free agent market offers few options, with Randy Bullock standing out as the most experienced choice. However, Bullock’s limited appearances last season do raise concerns.

Another enticing possibility in free agency is Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates from the UFL. Bates, who went undrafted last year, displayed his skills in the Panthers before gaining attention in the football scene.

While Bates’ contract restricts communication with NFL teams, his success in Detroit makes him a compelling target for the Lions. His exceptional leg strength and accuracy in long-distance kicks could provide the solution Detroit needs.

It may take time to acquire Bates due to UFL commitments, but the Lions appear well-positioned to secure his services in 2024. This could potentially push Badgley back into a reserve role or lead to his departure from the team.

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