Ravens burning questions: will Justin Tucker get a contract extension?


Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) celebrates with teammates after kicking field goal against the New England Patriots in the third quarter during the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Kicker is oftentimes a disposable position in the NFL, with teams regularly cutting them loose and simply picking up another off the street.  Unlike other positions like quarterback, cornerback, and pass rusher, there is a glut of similar kicker talent.  Few teams pay their kickers much more than the minimum salary.

There are, of course, exceptions to that rule.  There are a few elite kickers in the NFL, and the Ravens’ own Justin Tucker is one of them.  These top tier guys are virtually automatic when it comes to hitting field goals.  Tucker is one of those guys, with a career 89.8% field goal percentage (97% from the 30-39 yard line).

Those numbers don’t just make Justin Tucker an elite kicker, they place him atop the league at his position.  He’s also Pro Fooball Focus’ number one rated kicker coming out of 2014.  And Tucker’s value is only going up heading into 2015 following the recent NFL rule change that moves the extra point from the two yard line to the 15 yard line.

But for a team that is tight against the salary cap, is it really wise to invest a ton of money in a kicker? The Ravens value special teams play more than a lot of other teams, but they also aren’t an organization known for overpaying anyone.  It’s likely why they have yet to strike a deal with Tucker.

Stephen Gostkowski of the New England Patriots is currently the NFL’s highest paid kicker on a per-year basis, and he is due $4,540,000 in 2015.  For comparison’s sake, Justin Tucker is due $2,356,000 after receiving a second round tender as a restricted free agent.  That makes Tucker just the 17th highest paid kicker in the NFL.

More from Ravens News

So there’s no doubt Justin Tucker has earned a raise.  As a former undrafted free agent, he has certainly proven himself over the last three seasons.  And the Ravens prefer to lock up their core players before they become unrestricted free agents, as Tucker will be next offseason.

Ultimately, it makes a lot of sense for the two sides to get something done now.  The Ravens should keep Tucker, who is a young and ascending player.  Even if they make him the highest paid kicker in the league, we’re only talking about a couple million dollars here.  This isn’t a Joe Flacco or Jimmy Smith type of situation.

Next: Ravens top special teams players of all time

More from Ebony Bird