One of the offseason stories that has gotten very little attention, at least nationally, is the fact that longtime New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski is unsigned.
The two-time first-team All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler became a free agent last month, and there was an ESPN report on Sunday that New England is looking for “a market correction of sorts” after Gostkowski’s 2015 extension made him the highest-paid kicker.
But the Patriots may have some competition.
Report: 49ers showing interest
Citing a league source, Matt Maiocco of NBCSports Bay Area reports that the San Francisco 49ers are showing interest in Gostkowski.
The Niners are having an issue with their own kicker, Robbie Gould. The team has designated Gould as its franchise player for this year, but Gould has yet to sign the tender; Maiocco writes the player and San Francisco “appear to be at odds.”
The 35-year-old Gostkowski was a fourth-round pick of the Patriots in 2006, replacing franchise legend Adam Vinatieri.
San Francisco at an impasse with Gould?
49ers general manager John Lynch said at the NFL owners’ meetings last month that the team had worked “very hard” on an extension with Gould before tendering him. Gould signed a two-year, $4 million contract with San Francisco in 2017.
There is a mid-July deadline for franchise tagged players and their respective teams to reach an agreement on an extension, or the player must play the season on the tag (or hold out, or skip the season á la Le’Veon Bell).
Maiocco writes that negotiations appear to be at an impasse currently, though deadlines always seem to spur action in the NFL.
Could Gostkowski, Gould swap jerseys?
Clearly nothing has happened yet, but Gostkowski has become a New England mainstay and the second-longest tenured player on the team, behind, of course, Tom Brady.
As Maiocco notes, Gould and Gostkowski are the second- and third-most accurate kickers in NFL history, though they are just percentage points apart - Gould has made 87.745 percent of his kicks, while Gostkowski has made 87.381 percent.
Undrafted in 2005, the 36-year-old Gould got his start in New England: the Patriots signed him as a rookie free agent and had him in camp, but that season ultimately went with Vinatieri, who was on the franchise tag. If the Niners signed Gostkowski or another kicker, they’d likely release Gould from the tag, freeing him to go elsewhere.
Bill Belichick has always spoken highly of Gould, so it would certainly be interesting if the kicker’s career came full circle and he returned to New England.
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