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Free Agent Primer: Special Teams

Posted Mar 5, 2014

Position-by-position look for Cardinals moves to the kicking game

Kicker Jay Feely (right) is scheduled to be a free agent, but the Cardinals have already re-signed punter Dave Zastudil (left).

Free agency begins on March 11. The Cardinals have many key pieces in place, but there are still needs to be addressed. We’ll break it down by position over the next 10 days as unsigned NFL players prepare to hit the open market.

More free agent analysis: QB I RB I WR I TE I OL

Free agent primer: Special teams

Cap numbers of players under contract for 2014: P Dave Zastudil ($1.25 million); LS Mike Leach ($1.09 million)

Scheduled free agents: K Jay Feely, KR Javier Arenas

Need: Medium

Analysis: The Cardinals re-signed punter Dave Zastudil to a two-year extension in January after another steady season. Long snapper Mike Leach was unnoticeable last year, a high compliment for a person at the position, and he is scheduled to return. The big question mark is at kicker, the position Jay Feely has manned for the past four seasons with the Cardinals. Feely hit 30-of-36 field goals last year (83.3 percent), which was only 21st in the NFL, but he is generally an accurate kicker (86.1 percent in his previous three years with the Cardinals). The bigger concern is leg strength, as Feely’s touchback percentage of 37.8 was near the bottom for starting kickers, and it dipped to 23.1 percent in road games. Feely is a steady veteran, and his experience was key during high-pressure field goal attempts last season. The Cardinals aren’t opposed to bringing him back, but they may also scan the market for other kickers.

Patrick Peterson had a another down year returning punts in 2013, but he is still dangerous and seems likely to remain in that role unless the team adds a suitable replacement. Kick returner Javier Arenas is a free agent and may not return. The Cardinals are looking for a speed receiver in free agency or the draft, and if they find one, that player could also be used to return kicks.

Notable scheduled NFL free agents: K - Steven Hauschka, Adam Vinatieri, Phil Dawson, Rian Lindell, David Akers, Josh Brown, Lawrence Tynes, Dan Carpenter, Billy Cundiff. PR/KR – Trindon Holliday, Ted Ginn, Devin Hester, Josh Cribbs, Dexter McCluster, Julian Edelman, Kyle Williams, Jacoby Jones.

Notable past free agent ST signings by the Cardinals: P Dave Zastudil (2011); K Jay Feely (2010); K Mike Nugent (2009); LS Mike Leach (2009);  P Ben Graham (2008); P Dirk Johnson (2008); K Neil Rackers (2003); LS Nathan Hodel (2001); K Cary Blanchard (2000); K Chris Jacke (1998); P Scott Player (1998); K Joe Nedney (1997);  LS Trey Junkin (1996); P Jeff Feagles (1994).


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