Since joining the New England Patriots in 2006 as the 118th overall pick in the NFL Draft, placekicker Stephen Gostkowski has been one of the most consistent players in the NFL. In his now nine seasons with the Patriots, Gostkowski has made 85.6 percent of his field goals, making 208 of his 243 attempts. He has consistently broken 50 yards on various attempts and has shown little sign of slowing down. His stock has only risen in the past several seasons, as he has become arguably the best kicker in the NFL.
Gostkowski is under contract with the Patriots through this season, but his future with the team is uncertain beyond that. His value has risen considerably over the past several years, meaning he will be a highly-sought offseason target for many teams. Gostkowski has proven time and time again that he is a valuable asset to an otherwise weak New England special teams, but can fans anticipate another Adam Vinatieri-like departure, or will the Patriots sign the kicker to a contract before it’s too late?
At just 30 years old, Gostkowski has a lot of football ahead of him. The 2014 season is of course a contract year, therefore we can expect to see his best, but is that really any different than what we have seen thus far? In the past the Patriots have let incredibly valuable players slip through the cracks, unwilling to shell out the money to sign these prospects and established stars to long-term deals. It happened with Wes Welker, and even Vinatieri was allowed to walk away after a spectacular tenure in New England. The fear is that the same could happen to Gostkowski.
The most important aspect when considering Gostkowski’s future with the team is cost. He is one of the highest-paid kickers in the NFL, and a trade or denying a new contract would certainly save the Patriots money, opening up some cap-space that would allow to New England to pay a young kicker a rookie contract as well as some additional players. Gostkowski is still relatively young and at the top of his game, but kickers are among the most replaceable players in football, which doesn’t bode well for Gostkowski’s future with the team.
Gostkowski is coming off one of his best seasons yet. In the 2013 season, he was the best kicker in the NFL, a Pro Bowler and made 92.7 percent of his field goal attempts, missing only three total the entire season. If history means anything, this could be the last year we see Gostkowski dawning a Patriots uniform if Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft opt for young, cheap talent as opposed to established veterans who carries a bigger price tag.