Veteran kicker Lions can easily replace Michael Badgley with will hit free agent market

The Lions should be looking for an upgrade a kicker, and one will reportedly hit the free agent market.
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Not having a kicker you can rely on from longer distances is not a problem, until it is when the stakes are high. Lions head coach Dan Campbell likely would have gone for it on the two controversial fourth downs in the NFC Championship Game no matter what. But he surely knew Michael Badgley was basically not an option (4-for-11 in his career outdoors from 46-49 yards out, h/t to Colton Pouncy of The Athletic).

Which isn't to say a lot of kickers would have made one of both of those hypothetical field goal attempts. And with the analytics saying going for it or "taking the points" was roughly a coin-flip in terms of win probability, we know what Campbell will do.

But it would be nice if kicking was a viable option in those situations, and Badgley made it that it was not.

The Lions have already re-signed Badgley, as could have been expected. But his contract is hardly a commitment to him as the kicker for next season, and general manager Brad Holmes quickly said (however obviously) there will be competition added.

It's just a matter of what that competition looks like, and if Badgley will actually have his job threatened.

The Lions lost one potential free agent option at kicker when the Texans re-signed Ka'imi Fairbairn. But another is set to hit the market.

Veteran kicker the Lions can easily replace Michael Badgley with is set to hit the market

According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, veteran kicker Nick Folk is expected to test the free agent market.

Folk spent the 2023 season with the Tennessee Titans. He led the league in field goal percentage last season, converting 29 of 30 attempts 96.7 percent), including five of six from 50-plus yards out. As Pelissero noted, Folk leads the league in field goal percentage over the last four seasons (91.8 percent; 123-for-134).

Before last year in Tennessee, Folk kicked for the Dallas Cowboys (2007-2009), New York Jets (2010-2016), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (four games in 2017) and the New England Patriots (2019-2022). He has kicked in six playoff games (13-for-13 on extra-points, 6-for-7 on field goals).

The mention of his career span invites the biggest question about Folk. He is 39 years old, and he will turn 40 during next season.

But his advancing age has not stopped him from being asked to try long-range field goals, and outside of the start of his career in Dallas he has had an outdoor home stadium. 11 total seasons of winter conditions in New York and New England will test any kicker's mettle.

On that front, the Lions have 14 indoor games currently scheduled next season (nine home; at Vikings, at Texans, at Colts, at Cardinals, at Cowboys) and a road game in San Francisco. The only potential weather games will be at the Packers and at the Bears, and one or both of them could be scheduled before wintry weather sets in. They also could lose a home game to an international game.

Based on playing indoors, the Lions would presumably be an appealing destination for Folk. Not to mention their status as a Super Bowl contender in 2024. And it just so happens they could use an upgrade at kicker, or at least legit competition for Badgley.

If Folk was not on the Lions' radar before, he should be now with the news he will test the market.


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