After nearly a month of training camp, the Jaguars finally have a winner in their kicking competition and the winner is nobody. That's right, nobody. Sure, someone will eventually get the job, but as of Tuesday morning, the job belonged to nobody because the Jaguars had exactly zero kickers on their roster after the release of Ryan Santoso on Tuesday.
That changed a few hours later, as Jacksonville claimed James McCourt, who was cut by the Chargers on Monday. By way of being the only kicker on the roster, he has the inside track to win the starting job for Week 1.
Still, the Jaguars kicking battle, which started with three kickers, has been wildly unimpressive this year. To put into perspective how ugly things have been, one kicker (Andrew Mevis) was cut just days into training camp after an erratic day where he hit former Cowboys coach Dave Campo with an errant field goal attempt, which was especially awkward because Campo was not standing anywhere near the field goal posts.
After watching Mevis go down in flames, the Jaguars signed Elliott Fry in late July, but Fry was gone less than three weeks later due to an injury. At first, it looked like the Jags might try to stash Fry on injured reserve, but on Aug. 19, they cut him from IR with an injury settlement.
With Fry out, that left Santoso as the final kicker standing in Jacksonville. Although he was the only kicker on the roster going into the Jags' second preseason game, Doug Pederson made it clear that Santoso was no lock to make the team
"Still working there. We need to see more honestly," Pederson said last week of whether Santoso would crack the roster as the Jaguar kicker, via SI.com. "He understands that. It's unfortunate that Elliot (Fry) got hurt in the game the other day because there was some nice competition going on there in practice. I thought those two would battle it out until the end, and we'll see what happens here at the end."
Santoso likely kicked himself out of a job over the weekend when he missed two field goals during Jacksonville's 16-15 loss to the Steelers, although both misses did come from beyond 50 yards (51, 57). Santoso had a chance to win the game on the final play, but sent his 57-yard kick wide right.
Santoso misses the field goal and the Steelers win pic.twitter.com/c7ZE8zGQxI— Mr Matthew CFB (@MrMatthewCFB) August 21, 2022
Overall, Santoso went 3 of 6 on field goals during the preseason.
Next up in the Jaguars kicking competition is McCourt, who will have a golden opportunity to make his mark.
"Consistency is what you look for in kickers. It'll be a good opportunity for him and then for us to keep going through the process," Pederson said of McCourt. "We've still got a little bit of time here before kicks mean something, but it'll be a good opportunity for him."
During his final two years at Illinois, McCourt went just 9 of 16 (56.25%) on field goal attempts of more than 40 yards, which means there's a chance he might not last long in Jacksonville.
If McCourt doesn't work out, there aren't a lot of great free agent options for the Jags. One possibility could be Michael Badgley, who hit 85.7% of his field goals with the Colts last season. The Jaguars could also turn back to Matthew Wright, who hit 21 of 24 kicks for them last season (87.5%).
The Jags could also wait to see who becomes available after cut day. The Lions and Jets are both holding kicking competitions right now, which means there will be at least two more kickers on the market after those battles are over.