The Buccaneers added their eighth free agent this offseason in signing former San Diego kicker Nate Kaeding, who will compete with Connor Barth during training camp and provide the team with insurance at the position in case of injury.
Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik weren’t kidding when they said that the team wants competition at all positions during the 2013 offseason. On Tuesday, the Bucs signed their eighth free agent this offseason, kicker Nate Kaeding, despite having one of the NFL’s best kickers in Connor Barth.
Kaeding, a two-time Pro Bowler, isn’t necessarily expected to beat out Barth in training camp and the preseason, but was brought in for competitive purposes to push Barth and to give the team some insurance in case of an injury.
Barth, who received the team’s franchise tag in 2012 before signing a lucrative, four-year, $13.2-million contract extension, set a franchise record with 25 consecutive field goals over the 2011-12 seasons. Barth has made 101-of-120 field goals in his five-year NFL career (84.2 percent), including 91-of-108 kicks as a Buccaneer.
Barth made 84.8 percent (28-of-33) of his kicks last year after coming off a personal-best season in 2011 in which he connected on 26-of-28 field goals (92.9 percent).
In his nine-year NFL career, Kaeding has made 181-of-210 field goals (86.2 percent), including 96 percent (117-of-122) of his kicks inside 40 yards and 58.8 percent (10-of-17) from 50 yards and beyond. He is the second-most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history.
Kaeding enjoyed eight productive years with San Diego where he was the team’s third-round pick in 2004, but tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the season opener in 2011 and was placed on injured reserve. Kaeding battled a groin injury in 2012 that prompted the Chargers to place him on injured reserve with a minor injury designation that required the team to release him when he was healthy.
Kaeding was 7-of-7 on field goals with San Diego in his three games during the 2012 season, and signed with Miami in December of last year where he made just one of three field goals. He missed a 45-yarder and had a 46-yard attempt blocked. Prior to signing with the Dolphins, Kaeding was the NFL’s most accurate kicker in history, connecting on 87 percent of his kicks before his two failed attempts in Miami caused him to fall behind Mike Vanderjagt (86.5 percent).
Despite his success in the regular season, Kaeding’s downfall has come in the postseason, where he has made just 8-of-15 field goals (53.3 percent) in the playoffs, including a dismal 3-of-9 (33.3 percent) mark at home.
As a rookie, Kaeding missed a potential game-winning, 40-yard field goal on a wet field against the New York Jets in a wild card game. Kaeding also missed a potential game-tying 54-yard field goal against New England in the 2006 postseason. In 2009, Kaeding missed all three of his field goal attempts from 36, 40 and 57 yards in a 17-14 playoff loss to the Jets.
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