The Cleveland Browns announced what seemed inevitable on Monday: The release of kicker Zane Gonzalez and the signing of his replacement, undrafted rookie Greg Joseph.
Gonzalez missed four kicks—two field goals and two extra points—in the Browns’ Week 2 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He also missed what would have been a game-winning field goal in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1.
In his two years with the Browns, Gonzalez managed to convert only 68 percent of his field goals, and as noted by Bleacher Report’s Ryan McCrystal, “anything below 75% is pretty much unheard of these days, and means you’re probably out of the league very soon.”
Zane Gonzalez has made 68% of his career FG attempts, the 3rd worst rate in Browns history (min 25 att).. anything below 75% is pretty much unheard of these days, and means you're probably out of the league very soon pic.twitter.com/VYM3NF042t— Ryan McCrystal (@Ryan_McCrystal) September 17, 2018
The rookie Joseph may or may not prove to be much of an upgrade, though. The Johannesburg, South Africa native doesn’t have a much better field-goal make percentage in his four years as the kicker for Florida Atlantic, at 69 percent. His extra-point make percentage of 97.1 percent, though, is strikingly better than Gonzalez’s 90.3 percent.
It’s possible that Gonzalez’s struggles this year are injury-related; ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that Gonzalez “has been kicking with a groin injury,” though the kicker did not show up on the Browns’ injury report this week nor was injury mentioned in the Browns’ announcement of his waiving.
Turns out Browns' kicker Zane Gonzalez, who is losing Cleveland's kicking job this week, has been kicking with a groin injury that requires an MRI today, per source. Browns could reach an injury settlement with him or put him on waivers, injured.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 17, 2018
While the Browns also had some interest in veteran kickers Blair Walsh and Cairo Santos, they decided to defer to the younger, yet less-experienced Joseph. Meanwhile, it’s expected the Minnesota Vikings will sign free agent Dan Bailey after releasing rookie kicker Daniel Carlson on Monday.