Adam Schefter reported that the Steelers are going to meet with place kicker Dave Rayner along with two other free agents – DE Matt Roth and LB Brandon Johnson. All three visits make sense. Even with the acquisition of Ta’amu and Spence in the draft this year, the Steelers could use some competition in camp at all three positions. But Dave Rayner?
Place kickers have the worst job in the NFL right next to the three guys who has to stand next to Rex Ryan and the Harbaugh brothers on the sidelines. The pressure is on all the time. No matter the distance or point in the game, a place kicker feels the pressure of 60,000+ pairs of eyes watching, crossing their fingers for a make or miss. Shhh don’t tell them about the millions watching them on TV. They might not make another kick in their entire career.
The Steelers have had their fair share of lax legged kickers who are either too busy getting drunk and destroying paper towel holders (Reed) or choking with four missed field goals against your most hated rival (Brown). To their credit, since moving to Heinz Field in 2001, field goal kicking has become rather difficult and requires a bit of praying to Jobu and military precise wind measurement tools before each kick. Still, there’s got to be somebody out there who can get the job done for the Steelers – and not just beyond 30 yards either.
The Steelers have decided to give Suisham a little competition by testing what’s left of the kicker free agency market. Something they should have done perhaps before the draft. Guys like Neil Rackers were available, but snatched up quickly. I’ve looked, and the well is pretty dry. Enter former
Colts Packers Chiefs Chargers Dolphins Lions Bengals Redskins Bengals Lions Cowboys Raiders Bills kicker Dave Rayner. Wow, that guy’s been around. He’s like the Jenna Jameson of the NFL – and I can tell you that even Jenna has better ‘legs’ than Rayner. Rayner, like most kickers who move around a lot has been inconsistent over the years. Did I mention that he is only 29 years old? That’s an average of two teams per year. Like Suisham, he has one hell of a boot. Anything over 40 yards seems to come fairly easy to either one of them. But put them inside the 25 yard line and things get really dicey. In fact, Rayner has a lower career kicking percentage (72%) than Suisham (79%).
I’m all for challenging your current roster. But, shouldn’t the team get somebody who can… ohhh I don’t know…. kick? Ryan Longwell was just released by the Vikings. Sure, he’s long in the tooth at 37, but he has a better career percentage (84%). He’s only been with two teams since 1997, so he’s ‘stable.’ He still has a good leg – he made a 52 and 53 yarder last season with the Vikes. Bring someone like him in. I know the Steelers would only get a year or two out of him. But, you might just get enough production out of him that you can actually count on your kicker. I swear that was something that started to really bone the Steelers late last season as Suisham continued to struggle. Arians started adjusting calls on 3rd down when in field goal range that you typically wouldn’t see. You could tell he was cringing a bit knowing that Suisham might step onto the field.
Bottom line – finding a kicker = good idea. But I think the Steelers could do better than Rayner. Longwell is past his prime, but is still a viable option that the Steelers should consider (and maybe they are). At this rate they should just find Jizminder Featherfoot. She’s better looking than those two at least…..