Vikings Need to Assess Kicker Situation — Again
Once again this offseason, the Minnesota Vikings need to assess the kicker situation. We were here last season questioning whether the Vikings should re-sign incumbent kicker Greg Joseph, and we are back to the same question.
Vikings Need to Assess Kicker Situation — Again
Consistency has always been Joseph’s problem and it was again with eight missed kicks across the 2023 season — six field goals and two extra points. The Vikings kicker had an 80% success rate on field goals, although it was a slight improvement on the previous season’s 78.8% success rate. It’s still way short of what’s required, with above 90% being the minimum requirement. Joseph did improve on extra points, with a 94.7% success rate, up on last year’s very poor 87%.
Bringing Joseph back was fine on a 1-year $ 2 million contract, with the caveat that he needed to improve. There was an improvement, but was it enough? Joseph has the advantage of playing home games inside a dome and away from the elements that can make a kicker’s job much more difficult. So, three of his misses being at home, with another in the Las Vegas Raiders domed stadium, is a concern. His 80% Mark made Joseph the 28th most accurate field goal kicker in the league in 2023. Any position where you are ranking that low is somewhere a team has to look to improve. So, what are the options?
Three of the five most accurate kickers in 2023 are set to hit free agency, should the Vikings wish to make a move.
Veteran kicker Nick Folk had a return to top form in Tennessee as the league’s most accurate field goal kicker with a 96.7% (one miss) success rate. There were a couple of extra point misses for the veteran who will turn 40 this year. Having missed the playoffs, the Titans are looking for a new head coach who will have just short of $75 million in cap space to work with. Do the Titans reward Folk with a new lucrative contract, or do they look to get younger and cheaper at the position as they start a rebuild?
The second most accurate kicker was Ka’imi Fairbairn, with 96.4% successful attempts on field goals and 95.5% on extra points. I would be surprised if the Houston Texans didn’t bring Fairbairn back on a long-term deal. Having made the playoffs in rookie QB C.J. Stroud’s first season the Texans are a team trending in the right direction. Houston drafted Fairbairn in 2016 and after seven seasons of good service, he has taken his game up a level in the last two to become one of the league’s best.
Cameron Dicker would be my favored choice, however, the Los Angeles Chargers have exclusive rights to him as a free event with only two years in the league. Dicker has only missed three kicks in two years as a professional, all of which were field goals over 50 yards — that’s a 94.5% success rate. He is 100% on field goals under 50 yards and 100% on extra points.
That is impressive consistency from the 23-year-old kicker, who has connected on seven field goals of 50+ yards proving he does have the leg for the big kick. If the Chargers, who will have a new HC and sit $45 million+ over the cap limit for 2024, don’t re-sign Dicker. The Vikings should be ready to pounce.
A fourth possible option is Dustin Hopkins, who isn’t a free agent and has been excellent for the Cleveland Browns this season. He’s connected on 91.7% of field goals and 92.3% of extra points. However, he did miss a couple of games including the playoff loss to the Texans with a hamstring injury.
The Browns are projected to be nearly $17 million over the salary cap limit for 2024 and they don’t have many contracts they can get out of that would clear some cap space. They can clear all of the $3 million Hopkins is due in 2024 by parting ways which puts him as a likely cut candidate and someone the Vikings could move for if he comes on the market.
The other option for Minnesota finding a rookie — either in the draft like the Vikings did with Daniel Carlson back in 2018, or picking from undrafted players like they did with current punter Ryan Wright. The Carlson story left a sour taste in the mouth after the previous regime in Minnesota gave up on him very quickly only for him to become an All-Pro kicker for the Raiders.
Adofo-Mensah has yet to select a special teamer with a draft pick, could he do so with a kicker? Teams have gone early for a kicker in recent drafts with San Francisco selecting Jake Moody in the third round last year. Chad Ryland (4th), Anders Carlson (6th), Cade York (4th), and Evan McPherson (5th) have also been drafted in recent seasons to varying levels of success. If the Vikings choose to go that route the top kickers that would be draft-worthy are Will Reichard, Joshua Karty, and Jonah Dalmas.
Free agency begins on March 13, and we will begin to find out what the Vikings plan to do with their roster.