The Buccaneers released Folk on Thursday. With Folk set to become an unrestricted free agent March 14 and the Buccaneers having no intention of re-signing him, Tampa Bay likely chose to cut the kicker loose so he could get an early start on finding work. The 33-year-old won the Buccaneers' kicking job in training camp last fall but held onto the role for only four games after missing seven kicks (five field goals, two extra points) on only 20 attempts. Rather than releasing him in favor of replacement Patrick Murray, the Buccaneers shifted Folk to injured reserve while he dealt with a minor knee injury that he's since recovered from. Given his underwhelming accuracy in recent years, Folk may only be signed as camp competition rather than as a team's top choice to win the kicking gig.
Folk (knee) met last week with Dr. James Andrews, who officially cleared the 33-year-old to resume kicking, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Folk beat out incumbent Roberto Aguayo for the Buccaneers' kicking duties in training camp but lost the gig after missing all three of his field-goal attempts in a narrow Week 5 loss to the Patriots. While Folk was initially expected to be released, the Buccaneers instead stashed him on injured reserve due to a minor case of left knee tendinitis, for which the veteran ultimately underwent surgery. Now fully healthy, Folk, who will officially become a free agent March 14, will likely head elsewhere this offseason in search of an opportunity to compete for a kicking job.
The Buccaneers placed Folk, who had been experiencing tendinitis in the knee of his (left) plant leg, on injured reserve Monday, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The injury is only a minor concern for Folk and likely wouldn't have affected his availability for the Buccaneers' Week 6 matchup with the Cardinals, but the move to IR will delay his inevitable release after the team signed Patrick Murray in a corresponding move to serve as its new placekicker. Folk lost the gig after missing three field goals in Tampa Bay's Week 5 loss to the New England, which came after he misfired on a pair of field goals and extra points across the team's first three contests of the season. Once Folk is deemed healthy, he'll be released off injured reserve and become eligible to sign elsewhere, but the accuracy issues he's displayed to date may limit the interest of other teams.
The Buccaneers won't release Folk any earlier than Monday, when they have four kickers scheduled to come in for workouts, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. The move may not officially happen until after the weekend, but it feels inevitable after Folk missed all three of his field-goal attempts in Thursday's 19-14 loss to the Patriots. From a performance standpoint, Folk has been the worst kicker in the NFL this season, missing five field goals and a pair of extra points in four games. Given the Bucs' offensive talent, Folk's replacement could emerge as a useful fantasy option.
Folk missed field-goal attempts from 56, 49 and 31 yards in Thursday's 19-14 loss to the Patriots. He converted both of his extra-point tries to finish with two points on the night. Folk was shaky in Week 4 against the Giants before nailing a game-winning field goal, but there was no such redemption Thursday. His first miss, which came just before halftime, was certainly tolerable considering the distance, but the other pair of misfires were difficult to swallow in the Bucs' narrow loss. Folk's 49-yard try came early in the fourth quarter with the Bucs trailing 16-7, while the 31-yard chip shot with 5:39 remaining that immediately went wide left ensured that an 11-play, 84-yard march went for naught. With three misses from 40-to-49 yards in the last two games, Folk is just 2-for-5 from a distance that head coach Dirk Koetter has repeatedly emphasized he expects his kickers to be nearly automatic from. The extended layoff before a Week 6 tilt against the Cardinals gives the Bucs a chance to audition competition for the placekicking job at a minimum -- if not jettison Folk outright -- although Koetter remained thoroughly noncommital about the issue immediately following the game, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com.
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