Meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers new placekicker: Former Buccaneer Patrick Murray.
On Monday, the Buccaneers signed Murray, who most recently kicked for the Cleveland Browns last fall, to replace kicker Nick Folk. Folk was placed on injured reserve with a "minor injury" classification. Murray gets a second go-around with his first team after handling the Buccaneers' kicking duties during the 2014 season.
Tampa Bay also added rookie defensive end Patrick O'Connor to the practice squad on Monday. A spot had opened on that 11-man crew when the Buccaneers promoted safety Isaiah Johnson to the active roster late last week.
Murray had briefly competed for the New Orleans Saints' job in August, but he got his NFL start in Tampa. After finishing his college career at Fordham as an FCS All-American, Murray first got a pro tryout in October of 2013, with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay later signed him to a reserve/futures contract in January of 2014, which put him in competition with Connor Barth, who was returning from a season spent on injured reserve due to an Achilles tendon injury suffered in July of 2013.
Murray won that competition and kicked in all 16 games in 2014, connecting on 20 of 24 field goal tries, with a long of 55. Murray attempted six field goals of 50 or more yards that season and made five of them. He was also 31-of-31 on extra point tries, although that was before the rule changed that made a PAT the equivalent of a 33-yard field goal.
Murray spent the 2015 season on the Buccaneers' injured reserve list after Kyle Brindza won a three-way competition for the kicking job, with Barth as the other contender. After Brindza was released after four games, the Buccaneers brought Barth back to finish that campaign. Last year, Murray won the Cleveland Browns' kicking position but landed on injured reserve again after just two games. In those two games, he made two of four field goal tries, including one from 54 yards. He was three for four on extra point attempts.
O'Connor (6-4, 276) was a seventh-round draft of the Detroit Lions this past spring after playing his college ball at Eastern Michigan. He was waived during final roster cuts in September and then added to Detroit's practice squad the following day. The Lions released O'Connor from the practice squad on Sept. 13.