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|The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope they’ve solved their kicking woes. Again.
Free agent Chandler Catanzaro becomes the latest kicker to get an opportunity to stop a seemingly never-ending carousel of potential solutions Rigoberto Sanchez Jersey , finalizing a three-year, $9.75 million contract on Friday.
The Bucs also formally announced the signing of veteran defensive lineman Mitch Unrein, who got a three-year, $10.5 million deal after spending most of the past three seasons with the Chicago Bears.
Catanzaro, meanwhile, has also kicked for the Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets during a four-year career. He’s converted 84.4 percent of his field goal attempts. Since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2014, he ranks eighth in the league with 103 made field goals and seventh with 461 points scored.
”I looking forward to taking advantage of the opportunity and just doing what I have the past four years,” said Catanzaro, who spent three seasons with the Cardinals for moving to the Jets in 2017. ”I think I’ve proven I belong. I think my career stats say that.”
The Bucs have been searching for some stability at the position since 2013. The team has used six different kickers over the past five seasons, including second-round draft pick Roberto Aguayo in 2016 and Nick Folk and Patrick Murray a year ago.
The hope is the strong-legged Catanzaro not only will be dependable on field goals and extra points, but improve the team’s kickoffs as well. The 27-year-old had a 67.2 touchback percentage on kickoffs with the Jets, seventh-best in the NFL.
The fifth-year pro made 25 of 30 field goals and was 29 of 29 on extra points in 2017.
Since Connor Barth handled Tampa Bay’s place-kicking duties from 2009 to 2012 Chris Jones Jersey , the Bucs haven’t had a player hold the job for consecutive seasons.
Murray served separate stints in 2014 and 2017, and Barth returned for a second stint in 2015 before general manager Jason Licht surprisingly traded up to select Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 draft.
Folk was signed in free agency last winter to replace an inconsistent Aguayo. He struggled, too, before spending much of last season on injured reserve. Murray returned for his second stint with mixed results, especially on kickoffs.
Catanzaro said he’s ”definitely aware” of Tampa Bay’s kicking woes, but noted: ”I wasn’t here during that time, so I’m looking forward to doing my thing this season.”
”I’m never complacent,” he added. ”I’m always looking to get better.”
Unrein spent four seasons with the Denver Broncos from 2011 to 2014. The following year, he played two games for the San Diego Chargers before being released and signing with the Bears.
In 95 career games, including 24 starts, Unrein has 4 1/2 sacks and one fumble recovery.
The 30-year-old is the second defensive lineman the Bucs have signed in free agency this week, joining former Eagles tackle Beau Allen.
The Minnesota Vikings are working through a quarterback quandary this offseason Allen Robinson Jersey , with three pending free agents.
They have ample space under the salary cap, around $50 million, and an unfulfilled desire to produce a long-term answer at the position after years of questions.
Coach Mike Zimmer expressed caution about the strategy of spending their way out of the uncertainty.
"I think it's really, really important that we understand that we've won 40 games in the last four years and we've done this by being pretty good on defense for the most part," Zimmer said Thursday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. "This year the offense was much better. Part of the reason we've been winning games is because we've been staying in games on defense, we've been a smart team, all those things."
About half of the quarterbacks in the league are making an annual average of $20 million, and the standard prices will only increase this month with Kirk Cousins leading the list of soon-to-be free agents. Zimmer, for his part, pumped the brakes on the notion of trying to win such a bidding contest.
"I want to be really careful about taking away from our strength ... because of financial reasons," Zimmer said.
Staying in step with what general manager Rick Spielman said Wednesday, Zimmer told reporters the Vikings are still assessing the pros and cons of Case Keenum Dorance Armstrong Jr. Jersey , Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater with the market set to open on March 14. Zimmer said all three quarterbacks are "definitely" under consideration.
Breaking with the guarded style of his boss, Zimmer pushed the candor button at the podium. He acknowledged the realities and reservations of each of the three players he's had as the primary starter over the past three years.
"It's important for myself and Rick and the organization to pick the right guy that is going to help us continue to move forward," Zimmer said. "If we don't do that, then I'll probably be fired."
Keenum took over after Bradford hurt his knee following the season opener and enjoyed a career-best performance, helping the Vikings reach the NFC championship game. Before 2017, he'd just been a backup. Several times during the year, Zimmer hinted at mild skepticism about Keenum's ability to keep up such success.
"Is he the guy when he was at Houston or the Rams, or is he the guy who played for us?" Zimmer said, repeating a similar line of questioning for Bradford, who didn't experience much success early in his career with St. Louis.
Bradford's biggest issue is the knee, which Zimmer described as a "degenerative" problem. There's clearly no perfect answer for the Vikings in this complicated situation.
"At the end of the day, it's a guess and a hunch Ameer Abdullah Jersey ," Zimmer said.
Bridgewater presents the least-expensive option but also the least-known, considering he last started a meaningful game more than two years ago. The amount of time he missed while rehabilitating his knee injury has made it difficult to evaluate his ability to lead the team for the next decade, as the Vikings originally intended when they drafted him in the first round in 2014.
"It's really hard to evaluate just in practice. We have to go back a lot with Teddy on what he's done in the past, him as a person, his work ethic, all those things. Him not playing for two years and not being able to see him play in live situations, that's concerning a little bit," Zimmer said. "But I love the guy. He's a great kid, great competitor, a winner."
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