So Far, Daniel Carlson Has Turned into 5th-Best Kicker in NFL History.

So Far, Daniel Carlson Has Turned into 5th-Best Kicker in NFL History.
Sep 9, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

ESPN tweeted a stat last week that also happened to side-swipe the Minnesota Vikings.

While complimenting and uplifting the prestige of Justin Tucker, ESPN illuminated Daniel Carlson’s Top 5 status in NFL history per field-goal kicking accuracy.

That’s right. The player cut by Minnesota Vikings after two games in 2018 is now a Top 5 kicker of all time, at least among men who have attempted at least 100 kicks.

Former general manager Rick Spielman drafted Carlson in 2018 to solve the Vikings kicking woes once and for all. As a rookie, though, Carlson was terrible through his first two career games, causing the Vikings to release him after a Week 2 contest at the Green Bay Packers.

Sep 16, 2018; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

The Las Vegas Raiders signed Carlson five weeks later, onboarding a kicker who seems headed toward a Hall-of-Fame resume.

In the aforementioned Packers game from 2018, Carlson missed three field goals, any of which would’ve won the game for Minnesota. But no cigar. The Vikings and Packers tied 29-29 that afternoon, and Minnesota finished 8-7-1 in 2018. As it turned out, if Carlson could’ve connected on just one of the field goals, the Vikings would’ve entered the playoffs in 2018.

Carlson took a little bit to get going with the Raiders, but when he found his footing, the seas parted. He led the NFL in scoring in 2020 and 2021, respectively, and was voted as a 2nd-Team All-Pro in 2021 behind — you guessed it — Justin Tucker on the 1st Team.

His departure stands out to Vikings fans mainly for cynical purposes. At the time the Vikings released Carlson in 2018, nearly every soul in the Vikings orbit never wanted to see or hear from Carlson again. His performance at the Packers was that lousy. However, when he became a Raider, those same fans just knew Carlson would “figure it out.”

And figuring it out was precisely what the young kicker did — to the tune of a Top 5 kicker ever.

Aug 4, 2022; Canton, Ohio, USA; Las Vegas Raiders place kicker Daniel Carlson. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Overall, even though Vikings enthusiasts rejoiced when Carlson was jettisoned, he remains a member of “the one that got away” club. Carlson is also deadly from distance, converting 13 of 16 (81.2%) career field goals of 50+ yards.

Curiously, Carlson missed an extra point against the Vikings in last weekend’s preseason game.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).