33-Yard PATs and Kicker Compensation

Peter King made a great point in a Monday Morning Quarterback article this week. King mentioned how, in 1912, while designing the scoring system, the fathers of football decided a kick near the goal posts should be worth one point. Of course, it was a lot harder to kick an extra point when the game began. Just over 100 years later, NFL kickers made 99.6% of their extra point attempts, with 27 teams going 100%, while just ten years before, only 15 teams were perfect.

So, King, writes, the league is now trying to determine if the point-after-touchdown has become “a total, uncompetitive, waste of time.”

News of the PAT being reconsidered ties in well to conversations I have been having on my social media sites for awhile now.

In a tongue-in-cheek way, I have been arguing that soccer is un-American because, in our sports, if something is broken, we fix it. If a rule causes action to slow down or a game to become boring, changes are made made. King’s discussion of the PAT conversation validates my point. Some YouTube commentators blasted me with angry comments, but couldn’t dispute my claims as they watched 120 scoreless minutes in the World Cup—their sport’s biggest event.

To make these American sports better, we’ve seen football create rules that make it easier to pass the ball, this new extra point experiment, along with many other things. Basketball created the three-point line, the 24-second shot clock as well as goaltending rules. Baseball lowered the pitching mound in 1969 to favor the batter more after a 1968 season that was known as “The Year of the Pitcher” because of their dominance.

Simply put, when we see an opportunity to make our American sports more exciting, we change our sports for the better.

I’m eager to watch how the NFL’s experiment plays out and kickers should love the possibilities.

I don’t know if I want big games to be decided by an extra point, but I think, over time, we could all adjust to this and kickers are sure to become an even more valued member of their team.

This off-season, kickers have generally been against the 33-yard PAT stating the same concerns I have of games being decided on an extra point as well as the potential for injury. My thought upon hearing of the new experiment was simple—all it will take is one kicker missing one really big kick costing his team the season, and the salary cap value of kickers will increase substantially.

It’s like anything in life, if you rise to a challenge proving your worth, you become more valuable to your organization which will, ultimately, be reflected by your compensation.

Currently, the NFL franchise tag (the average of the top 5 salaries at your position) is a great example in the disparity between compensation for each position. It was illustrated in the New Orleans Saints legal battle with Jimmy Graham.

To that point, the kicker and punter franchise tag is only $3.556 million, only 50.5% of the next lowest position group in tight ends at $7.035 million. To that point, the highest paid kicker in the NFL is Sebastian Janikowski who is averaging $3,775,000 a year over the course of his four-year deal. This is the same average salary as what the 19th highest paid tight end, Garrett Graham of the Houston Texans received on the three-year deal he signed this offseason.

Janikowski’s average salary is similar to that of the 24th highest paid safety, Mark Barron of the Tampa Bay Bucs and the 17th highest paid running back in Marcell Reece of the Oakland Raiders. Point being, there is room for growth in kicker compensation and a rule change might incentivize that.

Already in the pre-season, two extra points have been missed in 59 attempts versus five misses in all of last season. If the move back to 33-yards does happen, kickers will rise to the occasion, just like so many of them have in recent years with the increase in distance of made field goals. Kicks that were not consistently made 20 years ago are now chip shots.

Before 2009, there was just one 60+ yard field goal made in 1970, 1984, 1991, 1998, and 2006. Five of the 14 field goals of 60 yards or longer in NFL history came in 2012 and 2013 from the legs of Matt Prater, Sebastian Janikowski, David Akers, Jay Feely, Justin Tucker and Greg Zuerlein. There are more 60+ yard field goal kickers in the NFL right now, than in the rest of NFL history.

It’s the same concept as the four-minute mile: when you see others doing it, you realize you can too. There’s a friendly competition between kickers around the league in the quest to be the best. I’m willing to bet that, if the NFL changes the rules, as the 33-yard extra point gets more natural for kickers, they will continue to improve their field goals all over the field and increase their distance.

Even when you look at the field goal percentages of 30-39 yarders for NFL kickers in 2013, success was near automatic. Stephen Gostowski, Shaun Suisham and Nick Novak each hit 13 field goals from this distance with Gostowski missing zero, Suisham missing two and Novak missing three. Four more kickers hit double digits without a miss like Gostowski, Blair Walsh and Josh Scobee were 12 for 12 and Greg Zuerlein and Kai Forbath were 10 for 10. NFL Vice President of Officiating, Dean Blandino, states that kickers were 92% from 33-yard last season.

Sure, some kickers missed some field goals from this kind of distance, but isn’t that the point? No one missed more than Novak’s three, Garrett Hartley went 5-8, so I take this to be a good sign. It’s a kick that an NFL kicker should make, but it’s hard enough that it will add some excitement to those 45 seconds after a touchdown.

The NFL wants to make the extra point a play worth watching for fans, and this doesn’t even go into the fact that a longer extra point kick, could result in an increase in 2-point conversion attempts from the 2-yard line.

The NFL wants the PAT to be something for fans to get excited about, something that people have to watch, not the extended bathroom break it has become.

We can’t continue to have 45 seconds of plays without any chance of action. What do you think this is? Soccer?

Zack Moore
@ZackMooreNFL
www.AllAmericanHustle.com
Supplements: Onnit


 

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  • Bo Jørgensen

    The only thing i would regret if they moved PAT is, that you loose the possibility of a fake FG- 2 point conversion. If they move Pat away from the 2 yard line – the defence always knows what’s coming.

  • Omar Cheddadi

    First of all, i wanna present myself I am a moroccan citizen who likes american football.
    But i don t understand why are you guys so obsessed to compare the american football with other one.
    It s another sport deal with it, you can find it boring, scoreless or non innovative but its universality that what make it special.
    You can t compare football and “soccer” ,just the way yiu cant compare football with basketball or cricket.
    Anyway i like the quality of the articles on this website, keep going and apologize for my english it been years that i didnt use it so it may be rusty