NFL

Buccaneers release struggling K Aguayo

(TSX / STATS) -- TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released beleaguered kicker Roberto Aguayo on Saturday, a little more than a year after taking him in the second round.

Aguayo, whose 71 percent field-goal percentage was the worst in the NFL as a rookie, likely sealed his fate by missing an extra point and a 47-yard field-goal attempt in Friday's preseason loss at Cincinnati.

Those misses came after he connected on his first kick, a 20-yard field goal to five the Bucs a 3-0 lead.

Veteran Nick Folk, whom the Bucs signed in March, would appear to have the inside track on the job as the only kicker remaining on the roster.

Folk connected on a 45-yard field goal in Friday's game. Although it was his only attempt, Folk's kick was two yards further than Aguayo's longest field goal in 2016.

The Bucs traded up into the second round to draft Aguayo after he was an All-America kicker at Florida State.

The Bucs turned to young kickers in each of the previous two seasons, with first-year player Patrick Murray in 2014 and rookie Kyle Brindza in 2015. Brindza struggled enough that he was released and replaced by veteran Connor Barth a month later.

Aguayo missed an extra point on his first preseason kick, hitting the left upright, but he would go 8-for-10 on field goals and 7-for-7 on extra points the rest of the preseason. He struggled as a rookie, connecting on only 71 percent of his field goals. He also missed two extra points.

That uncertainty led to the signing of Folk, who had been cut by the Jets in part because he was due to make $3 million in 2017. Folk was given a $1.75 million contract by the Bucs, including $750,000 guaranteed, more than Aguayo's entire 2017 salary. They had made it clear at that point they were willing to move on from even a high draft pick if a better option was available for the team's success.

Aguayo sat alone for a few minutes after dressing at his locker following Friday's game. He took a deep breath and appeared to be saying a prayer before turning to face reporters.

"Honestly, the (extra point) felt good," Aguayo said. "When I caught it, I knew I pushed it a little bit and I was like, 'Hopefully it will stay in,' but it hit the upright. Unlucky.

"And the last one, I was trying to get a good hit on it. I hit it good and it just started to fade. Not what you want. Not what I wanted. Obviously, not up to the standards that I want. You just have to keep your head up and move onto the next day."

Asked if he thought he might have cost himself a job with Friday's performance, Aguayo said: "You wanted to come out and be perfect. I did some good things. I hit some good kickoffs. I had a field goal in there but at the end of the day, it wasn't what I wanted. I've just got to put it in the past. It's a new day."

But it turned out to be his last in a Bucs uniform.

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter appeared to have lost all faith in Aguayo after Friday's game.

"You know, I keep saying it, I can't say it anymore," Koetter said. "If you're a kicker, you've got to make your kicks."

Notes: Quarterback Ryan Griffin was forced to leave Friday's 23-12 preseason loss to the Bengals early in the fourth quarter when he injured his right throwing shoulder after being hit while throwing a pass. Griffin suffered a sprain of the AC joint in his shoulder and will miss several weeks. He is a likely candidate for injured reserve. ... Running back Russell Hansbrough was evaluated under the concussion protocol during Friday's game. ... Linebacker Kwon Alexander had five tackles on the Bengals' first drive. ... LB Davonte Bond suffered an undisclosed leg injury and will miss several weeks. ... Linebacker Kendell Beckwith had five tackles Friday and will get reps with the first team at strong-side linebacker.

Updated August 12, 2017


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