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Bucs Land New Kicker in Chandler Catanzaro

Posted Mar 16, 2018

Former Jets K Chandler Catanzaro, who has made 84.4% of his field goal tries and was one of the NFL's best kickoff men in 2017, has signed with Tampa Bay as an unrestricted free agent

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted a little more thump in their kicking game, and they found it in the big right leg of Chandler Catanzaro, the former Arizona Cardinal and New York Jet.

On Friday, the Buccaneers signed Catanzaro, an unrestricted free agent after three years in the desert and one in the Big Apple, to a 3-year contract. He presumably inherits the team's kicking job from Patrick Murray, who became an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday.

Murray stabilized the Buccaneers' field goal fortunes after Nick Folk's early struggles in 2017, making 19 of 23 attempts, but Tampa Bay's kicking game didn't have particularly good range, either on placekicks or kickoffs. Catanzaro has made five of his eight tries from 50 or more yards the past two seasons and was seventh in the league in touchback percentage for the Jets in 2017.

Catanzaro initially signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent out of Clemson in 2014, after twice being named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award. He won a preseason battle with veteran Jay Feely to open the season as Arizona's kicker, and he justified the team's decision by making 29 of 33 field goals as a rookie (87.9%), including two of three from 50 yards and beyond. Catanzaro's second season was even better, as he made 90.3% of his field goal tries, ranking eighth in the NFL in that category by hitting on 28 of 31 attempts.

After making 21 of 28 field goal tries in his third and final season in Phoenix, Catanzaro became a free agent when he was not tendered by the Cardinals last March, and he quickly signed with the Jets. In his one season in New York, Catanzaro made 25 of 30 field goal tries, including both 50-plus-yarders, and was perfect on 29 extra point tries. He also produced touchbacks on 67.2% of his kickoffs.

Last season, the Buccaneers' longest field goal made was from 50 yards, and overall the team was nine of 17 from beyond 40 yards. In addition, Tampa Bay ranked last in field goal percentage on kickoffs, at 35.1%, and it was stung twice in the season's last two weeks by long kickoff returns for touchdowns.

Catanzaro hasn't missed a game since entering the NFL, playing in 64 contests over the past four years. His career totals include 103 field goals made in 122 attempts (84.4%), 152 extra points made in 161 tries (94.4%) and 461 total points. He has attempted the eighth most field goals in the league since 2014 and has scored the seventh most points.