AFC East: kicker

Let's be honest: Most NFL fans don't care about kickers. But once that position loses a couple of games for your favorite team, it becomes a different story.

That is the situation facing the Miami Dolphins heading into the 2013 season. Veteran kicker Dan Carpenter has been solid in Miami for four seasons until running into trouble last year. He missed several important field goals last season that put him on the hot seat under a new coaching staff led by Joe Philbin.

Not surprisingly, the Dolphins invested a relatively high fifth-round draft choice on former University of Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis. The rookie comes to Miami with high credentials, a very strong leg and is expected to push hard for Miami's kicking job this summer in training camp.

"He looks good," Philbin said of Sturgis during last month's minicamp. "I like the way he handles his business. He seems to be very professional, even though he has only been in the profession since April 15th for about two months. I like the way he moves about the building; he is quiet. He seems to be a hard worker, and he seems to have a pretty strong leg."

But here is the elephant in the room the Dolphins won't discuss publicly: Money could play a huge factor in their kicking decision.

Carpenter is due to make $2.68 million in the final year of his contract. That's a lot of money for a kicker who missed some big attempts last season. Sturgis, on the other hand, is making just $405,000 in the first year of his rookie contract. The Dolphins can save themselves more than $2 million this season by going younger at kicker.

The writing appears to be on the wall for Carpenter when you look at it from a financial standpoint. If the competition is relatively close, there is no reason Miami would not go with the much cheaper option in Sturgis, who is signed through the 2016 season.

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AFC EAST SCOREBOARD

Sunday, 11/30
Monday, 12/1