In this edition of "Mosher's Mailbag," I answer a question about the Eagles' kicking situation.
Q. Kickoffs are a huge concern. Murderleg doesn't seem to pose real threat to [Alex] Henery. Will Eagles consider bringing in a vet?
-- Phil Strat (@Phillstrat)
A. Absolutely. But before they consider going the free-agent route, the Eagles will look to see if one of two things happen this summer -- Henery shows an improvement on the depth of his kickoffs along with a little more accuracy on his field-goal attempts or Carey Spear (aka Murderleg) outperforms Henery by a wide margin on field-goal attempts and maintains the good depth of his kickoffs.
So far, the spring camps weren’t kind to Spear. His kickoffs came as advertised, but he was wildly inconsistent on his attempts. At least two attempts were hooked so far left that they bounced into a reserve parking lot next to the NovaCare Complex.
Murderleg can kick the ball into the bleachers on kickoffs, but if he can’t make routine field-goal attempts, he’ll have no shot at unseating Henery. Right now, Henery is squarely the leader of this competition. Of course, things can change quickly in training camp.
There’s also the chance that Henery legs out Spear in the competition but is still replaced by a free agent. One name to watch: Rod Bironas. The veteran kicker was released in March by Tennessee after a pretty good 2014 season, just not good enough to cost $2.875 million against the Titans’ cap along with collecting a $250,000 roster bonus.
Bironas, a 2007 Pro Bowler and All Pro, made 25 of his 29 attempts last year, including 7 of 10 from at least 40 yards. The problem is, the 31-year-old Bironas might be turning into an older version of Henery. His touchback rate has dipped three straight years. He went from 50 percent in 2012 to 38.6 in 2013, a steep dropoff.
There’s a good chance that cutting Henery and replacing him with Bironas doesn’t solve the kickoff issue, although it could give the Eagles more reliability on field-goal attempts.
Bironas is the fourth-ranked kicker in NFL history in field-goal accuracy, connecting on 85.7 percent of his attempts (239 of 279). From 2005-13, Bironas made 239 total field goals, second most by any NFL player in that span.
One maneuver I’ve been asked about is the potential of Chip Kelly keeping two kickers, one as a kickoff specialist. I just don’t see that happening. Versatility is one of Kelly’s main preferences. Having players who can play multiple positions, like a swing offensive tackle or defensive back who can play corner and safety, enables Kelly to get the most value from a 53-man roster, especially when injuries deplete the roster. It’s hard to believe he’d keep a guy on the 53 man just for kickoffs.