Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs release kicker Roberto Aguayo

TAMPA — The Bucs shrunk the goal posts for Roberto Aguayo. Before he ever worked a day in the NFL, they hired Lucy to hold for Charlie Brown.

Good grief.

The Bucs released Aguayo on Saturday morning, a few hours after he missed two kicks in a preseason loss at Cincinnati.

"We saw what that movie was like last year," coach Dirk Koetter said. "We're just not going to go that direction anymore."

Drafting one of the most accurate placekickers in college football history was not a mistake. Drafting him in the second round was.

From the minute Aguayo walked into One Buc Place last year, he felt like he had to be Mr. Perfect. Not a hair or a field goal out of place. The decision to draft him so high, presumably made by general manager Jason Licht, was immediately put through the blender. On puree.

The pundits at ESPN ripped it. The statistics website Pro Football Focus slapped a D grade on the pick, saying "there are much better players on the board."

Heck, even Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks recognized there was a problem when he confronted Aguayo at the Bucs' rookie orientation.

"How'd you feel when everyone said they should not have picked you that high?" Brooks asked him in front of teammates. "You felt (ticked) off. Don't lie to me! 'I'm going to show them.' C'mon, man, that's what you felt. Then when you got here, you were nervous."

"I knew what I could do," Aguayo said. "There was a little anger, but I knew."

Brooks countered, "Then you thought Jameis (Winston, Aguayo's teammate at Florida State) was down there, so I'll be all right."

Though Licht has taken sole responsibility for the decision, it always felt like somebody else put their hand on the scale. Maybe Winston. Maybe the Glazer family. We'll never know.

Why else would a team trade a third-round pick (74th overall) and a fourth-rounder (106) to move up 15 spots and take Aguayo in the second round (59)? In all likelihood, Aguayo still would've been on the board in the third round.

Sure, Aguayo was a Lou Groza Award winner as the best placekicker in college. If he had fulfilled his promise, the Bucs would not have had to address the position for maybe 10 years.

But Florida State was such a powerhouse when he was there, especially with Winston at quarterback, that Aguayo rarely had to make a pressure kick. Furthermore, there were plenty of reasons to question his leg strength.

In 2015 at FSU he connected on only 5 of 9 field goals from 41 yards and beyond. Aguayo had attempted only six kicks of 50-plus yards during his college career. So when Aguayo went 4-of-11 from 40 yards-plus last season, should that have been so shocking?

His longest made field goal as a rookie was 43 yards. Was it the added pressure of having to live up to such a lofty price tag or just bad scouting? My guess it was a whole lot of the first and a little of the second.

The life of an NFL kicker is lonely. Make or miss. No coaching is involved. That's why they call kickers specialists.

But after watching Aguayo struggle to make a league-worst 71 percent of his field-goal attempts in 2016, the Bucs hedged their bets in the offseason. They signed veteran free agent Nick Folk, guaranteeing him $750,000.

Folk will never be confused with Sebastian Janikowski. He is a career 81.3 percent field-goal kicker and hasn't exactly torn it up during training camp. But at least he's not Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Wide Right. Folk made his only attempt Friday against the Bengals and was good from 45 yards.

Aguayo was a $2 million mistake. But it's more than the money. It's the other positions and players needed that got away.

Aguayo's release doesn't mean his career is over. It's very likely a team claims him off waivers.

Mike Nugent was drafted in the second round in 2005 and made it through four years with the Jets but got cut by the Bucs and Cardinals before finding a real home with the Bengals. Matt Bryant wasn't drafted, played for three teams in three years and is still kicking, having made his first Pro Bowl for the Falcons at 41.

Aguayo put on a brave face after Friday's game. When he was released Saturday morning, only Licht, Koetter and Hard Knocks were in the room.

That might be the unkindest cut of all.

     
   
Comments
Nobody has Jameis Winston’s back more than Dirk Koetter, offensive coordinator Todd Monken insists

Nobody has Jameis Winston’s back more than Dirk Koetter, offensive coordinator Todd Monken insists

Nobody is a bigger supporter of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston than head coach Dirk Koetter.That was the passionate message that offensive coordinator/receivers coach Todd Monken unloaded at his news conference Thursday, saying that reports that Win...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Cannon Fodder podcast: Let’s revisit Monday night games in Bucs’ past

Cannon Fodder podcast: Let’s revisit Monday night games in Bucs’ past

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman has injury updates on Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy and a nostalgic trip through the Bucs’ history on Monday night, including the current three-game win streak and yes, that infamous 2003 Colts game where the Bucs were u...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Why the Bucs need a Dungy more than a Gruden

Why the Bucs need a Dungy more than a Gruden

TAMPA — The worst week of Dirk Koetter’s life rolls on.It’s Gruden Week, just like Shark Week, only with smaller teeth and a bigger playbook. It’s the big build-up to Gruden’s induction into the Buc Ring of Honor this Monday night, with the accompany...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Is Dirk Koetter fighting for his job?

Rick and Tom podcast: Is Dirk Koetter fighting for his job?

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss whether Dirk Koetter is fighting for his job the final three weeks of season. Is there a rift between him and Jameis Winston? Has Winston shown enough progress this year? And who are the Glaz...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs’ Lavonte David misses practice with hamstring injury

Bucs’ Lavonte David misses practice with hamstring injury

TAMPA — The Bucs knew they might be playing without DT Gerald McCoy, who suffered a biceps injury early in Sunday’s loss to the Lions. But now they face the prospect of playing Monday against Atlanta without another of their defensive leaders, as LB ...
Published: 12/14/17
USF’s Nigel Harris eager for chance with hometown Bucs

USF’s Nigel Harris eager for chance with hometown Bucs

When Nigel Harris chose where to play college football, he wanted to stay home in Tampa at USF. And now, after playing for the Chargers and Giants as an NFL rookie, he's grateful for the chance to again prove himself in Tampa as the newest member of ...
Published: 12/14/17
NFL Week 15: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

NFL Week 15: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

Week 15 starts and ends with disappointment — a Thursday night meeting of two of the more disappointing teams (Denver at Indianapolis) and a Monday night game that once had held high hopes locally (Atlanta at Tampa Bay). Once.Here's our picks f...
Published: 12/14/17
Measuring Jameis Winston’s progress, and Dirk Koetter’s job security

Measuring Jameis Winston’s progress, and Dirk Koetter’s job security

TAMPA — It is one of the most honest moments of the season, captured in the first Hard Knocks episode. Jameis Winston is having a frank conversation with coach Dirk Koetter, seated behind his desk in his office at One Buc Place."I just want to have a...
Published: 12/14/17
Jones: If you were Jon Gruden, what would you do?

Jones: If you were Jon Gruden, what would you do?

What would you do?If you were Jon Gruden, what would you do?Well, you could go to Hooter’s and order a pitcher of beer and dozen wings. Then, Monday, you could go be inducted into the Bucs’ Ring of Honor.I’m talking about after that.Would you stay i...
Published: 12/14/17
Rick and Tom podcast: Dirk Koetter, Evan Longoria, Stanley Cup and more

Rick and Tom podcast: Dirk Koetter, Evan Longoria, Stanley Cup and more

Rick Stroud and Tom Jones answer a lightning round of questions.
Published: 12/14/17