The Tennessee Titans are scheduled to enter training camp next weekend with Trey Wolff and Caleb Shudak as the only kickers on the roster. Perhaps I’ve harped on that fact a little too much this offseason, but it really is borderline shocking given the long-tenured kicking woes this franchise has suffered through. Looking around the league, general manager Ran Carthon should be paying close attention to the situation unfolding with the New England Patriots.
Veteran Patriots kicker Nick Folk has been one of the more consistent kickers in the league in recent memory. In 2020, Folk made an astounding 92.9 percent of his field goal attempts (26-of-28). He followed that up with a 92.3 percent showing in 2021. The 2022 season represented a slight step back for Folk, but his 86.5 make percentage still ranked 13th in the league (minimum qualifiers, 20 attempted kicks).
That didn’t stop the Patriots from drafting former Maryland kicker Chad Ryland with the No. 112 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. One of these potentially starting-caliber kickers is going to get released by the Patriots at some point. Folk is likelier to become available.
Ryland’s performance throughout the 2022 college football season earned an invite to this year’s Senior Bowl. It indicates Ryland was viewed as a consensus top-ranking kicker by the majority of 32 teams throughout the pre-draft process. The Titans met with, and watched Ryland kick in Mobile.
A handful of franchises also traveled to College Park to watch Ryland perform at Maryland’s Pro Day. You guessed it, the Titans were in attendance. The Titans showed consistent interest in Ryland’s services, but the Patriots beat them to the punch by utilizing a fourth-round pick on him.
While the Titans would probably prefer to land Ryland over Folk given his age, the younger kicker that was drafted is the heavy favorite to claim the Patriots job. If Folk becomes available, he would represent an upgrade on Wolf or Shudak, barring one of them showcasing significant improvement throughout training camp.
The Titans need to be monitoring Foxboro closely.