The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in the market for a new kicker in 2023, and one of the traits they planned to emphasize was the ability to make long-range field goals. They may have found their man in fifth-year veteran Chase McLaughlin, who has demonstrated an ability to connect from beyond 50 yards.
On Thursday, the Buccaneers signed McLaughlin to a one-year deal, who most recently handled the Indianapolis Colts' placekicking duties last year. McLaughlin was good on 83.3% of his field goal tries (30 of 36) and 100% of his 21 extra point attempts. He was nine for 12 on attempts of 50 or more yards in 2022 and over his career is 17 of 21 from that range.
"Well, obviously, consistency is number one," said Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles when discussing his team's kicking search the day before at the NFL Annual Meeting in Arizona. "You want guys that can kick 50-plus right now. I think that's a big weapon if you can get a guy that has distance that way, especially in Tampa. You want longer field goal kickers. Evaluation and mental toughness is critical going in as a kicker. Some guys blossom late, some guys have been kicking for a long time and can still do it, sometimes you have to get some new guys."
McLaughlin, who will turn 27 early next month, may not exactly be a late bloomer but he is definitely coming off his best and most stable season after bouncing around to six different teams over his first three seasons. He first entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois with the Buffalo Bills in 2019.
Overall, McLaughlin has played in 47 games, seeing action with the Colts, Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and Cleveland Browns. He has connected on 67 of 85 field goal attempts and 88 of 90 extra point tries, scoring a total of 289 points.
The Buccaneers released kicker Ryan Succop last week, clearing significant cap space in the process. Succop had spent three years with the team and left as the franchise's all-time leader in field goal percentage. He also went a perfect nine-for-nine on field goal tries during the Bucs' 2020 postseason run to the Super Bowl LV championship. The Bucs did lack a reliable long-range option during that period, as Succop tried only 10 field goals from 50-plus yards during his tenure, making three of them.