Everyone knew the Cleveland Browns would have a new kicker for the first time since returning to the league in 1999 after the team let Phil Dawson sign with the San Francisco 49ers in free agency. What many probably didn't anticipate was the possibility of the Browns going into the season with two new kickers.
One of the questions the Browns will have to answer this summer is whether they'll need two players to replace Dawson. Shayne Graham and Brandon Bogotay are the two kickers on the Browns' roster and both have different strengths.
Graham, 35, is the fifth-most accurate kicker in NFL history and is nearly automatic inside 40 yards (career 93.4 percent). His weakness is long distance. Graham hit 11 of 18 (61.1 percent) from beyond 40 yards last season for the Houston Texans.
Bogotay, 24, doesn't have much experience as a field-goal kicker, handling kickoff duties at Georgia as the backup to Blair Walsh, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie with the Minnesota Vikings last season. He attempted only three field goals in college and made just one of them. His biggest asset is leg strength. He hit a couple of field goals beyond 50 yards during last month's minicamp.
"It’s been close. It’s been back and forth," Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said of the kicking battle this spring. "Obviously, you get into the preseason and those games and that will be a very important part of the process of the evaluation. But it’s ongoing all the way through."
It's possible the Browns could use Graham to handle most of the field goals and keep Bogotay for kickoffs and long-range kicks. Keeping two kickers is a rarity these days in the NFL, especially since the league moved kickoffs to the 35-yard line in 2011. Last year, only the Buffalo Bills had a kickoff specialist for an extended period and they cut John Potter after six weeks. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts didn't have their kickers handle kickoffs and instead let their punters kick off.