K Mike Nugent set a Jets record in 2006 by succeeding on 88.9% of his field goal attempts
Matt Bryant and Mike Nugent will engage in an open competition for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' placekicking job in 2009.
That battle was set up on Wednesday when the Buccaneers signed Nugent, an unrestricted free agent formerly of the New York Jets, to a one-year deal. Other terms of the contract were not disclosed.
The kicker position should remain a strong one for Tampa Bay in 2009, because both Bryant and Nugent are excellent candidates for the job. In four seasons with the team, Bryant has made 83.1% of his field goal tries (98 of 118) and all but two of his 124 extra point attempts. Nugent has made 81.5% of his three-pointers over four seasons in New York and 83 of 85 extra point attempts.
Nugent missed almost all of the 2008 season after sustaining a right thigh injury in the Jets' season opener. However, he had back-to-back outstanding seasons in 2006 and 2007, making a combined 53 of 63 field goal tries in that span (84.1%) and scoring over 100 points both years.
Nugent remained on the Jets' active roster during the rest of the '08 season but was inactive for the final 15 games and was replaced by kicker Jay Feely. He attempted only one field goal, missing a 38-yarder after he hurt his kicking leg against Miami in the opener.
Nugent, who turned 27 on Monday, was one of the rare kickers to enter the league as a high draft pick, going in the second round (47th overall) to the Jets in 2005. He also bucked the trend by living up to that evaluation, immediately winning the Jets job as a rookie. He made 22 of 28 field goal tries in his debut campaign, then followed with one of the finest placekicking seasons in franchise history.
In 2006, Nugent made 24 of 27 field goal, setting a Jets record with a sparkling 88.9% success rate. He ended the '06 season and opened 2007 with a streak of 19 consecutive made field goals, the second-longest run in Jets annals. In all, Nugent converted 75 of 92 field goal tries and scored 308 points while in New York.
Nugent also proved to be a long-range weapon during that breakout 2006 campaign, hitting two of the 12 longest field goals in Jets history. His career long is a 54-yarder he nailed against Houston on November 26, 2006. The only Jets kicker ever to hit a longer field goal in the often difficult conditions of the Meadowlands is Pat Leahy, who made a 55-yarder in 1985.
Nugent is also a strong kickoff man, having forced nine touchbacks in his last full season, 2007.
At Ohio State, Nugent was the winner of the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker in 2004. A consensus All-America pick in 2002 and 2004, he set 22 Buckeyes records, including most points in a single season when he racked up 120 in 2002. A former high school quarterback, Nugent hails from Centerville, Ohio.