Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tagging Shayne Graham?

On Monday the Bengals announced that they would be using the Franchise Tag on kicker Shayne Graham. At first I was indifferent to the decision, and actually saw it coming. But the more I stew on it the more I hate this decision.

Why would you ever tag a kicker?
  • You have no idea what you are doing. (Also known as the Marvin Lewis effect)
  • You have a crush on said kicker. (Also know as the Brian Boitano effect)
  • You are three years old.
  • You don't understand that just because you have the option to put the franchise tag on a player doesn't mean that you have to.
  • There was a bio-engineered weapon designed to kill off all kickers and some how yours lived.
  • You are secretly trying to ruin the team. (Also known as the Mike Brown effect)
Those are the only reasons that I can think of to tag a kicker. Now, why tag Shayne specifically?

  • Pro Bowl selection 2005
  • All Pro selection 2005
  • Bengals Franchise records in: Most field goals in a season (31), most field goals in a game (7), highest field goal percentage in a season (91.2%), highest field goal percentage for career, most point in a season (131).
  • Was previously cheap since we picked him up off the wavier wire, more about that later.
  • Three times hit game winners for the Bengals. In '04 in Miami, '04 against Baltimore and '05 vs. Cleveland.
  • We are now paying a kicker almost 2.5 million dollars.
  • Has lost the game 4 times for the Bengals. In 2006 vs. Tampa Bay (62 yarder), '06 vs. Denver (PAT), '06 vs. Steelers (39 yader), '08 vs. Philly (47 yarder in OT).
  • Cost us the playoffs with the missed field goal against the Steelers in 2006. A very makable 39 yards.
  • Touch back percentage of 9.3%. That was 24 among all kickers last year. So, the guy clearly can't get the ball in the end zone on the kickoff, unless he has a 30 mile an hour wind going WITH him.
I like Shayne Graham, he seems like a nice guy and does a lot in the community, but as far as kickers go he is not really extraordinary. He has severe accuracy issues if it is 40 yards or longer, he is horrible on kick offs, he is not great in the clutch, or at least hasn't been in three years. Honestly I would put Shayne somewhere in the middle of the pack as far as kickers go, and yet the Bengals feel the need to pay him and average of the top 5 kickers for the next year. For as fiscally responsible (cheap) as Mike Brown is I find this to be a very strange move.

I find it even more strange when you have more important free agents like Stacy Andrews, TJ Houshmanzadeh, and Cedric Benson still to sign. Any of those three they really need.
  • Stacy Andrews. Stacy was tagged last year and we need him just as much this year. Willie Anderson is no longer there as a safety net and the Bengals are pretty thin at tackle. While I am sure they will be drafting a tackle at some point in the draft as it stands right now they have 4 tackles. That includes Levi Jones who should be cut.
  • TJ Houshmanzadeh. When faced with a similar dilemma Pittsburgh decided to keep Hines Ward and cut ties with Plaxico Burris. Hines is a fierce competitor and will do anything to win, Plaxico wants money and fame. Sound familiar? The Bengals should have cut ties with Chad Johnson last year when they had the chance and re-committed to TJ. Finding guys to run down the sidelines and catch a ball, never block, and duck out of bounds instead of fighting for the extra yard are easy to find. Finding the heart and soul of your offense is not. Take a poll in Cincinnati and see who anyone, everyone thinks that the Bengals should keep.
  • Cedric Benson. Not nearly as high profile as the other two, but right now he is just as important. The Bengals backfield without Benson consists of Chris Perry, Kenny Watson, DeDe Dorsey, James Johnson. Chris Perry is Reggie Bush light with a fumble problem, Kenny Watson is a great third down back, but nothing more, DeDe and James are very unproven. Cedric came into his own the last four games, he now knows the system and the offense and can prove that he was the talent that he was when he was drafted fourth overall.
Any of those three are more valuable than a kicker. Hell, Shayne himself was a wavier wire pick up for the Bengals in 2003. Just like in fantasy football kickers are a dime a dozen. They do not have to learn an offense, they are not calling play, they simply go out and kick a ball and it is the same for any team from pee-wee football up to the pros.

How do the Bengals not think that they can't just draft a kicker in the 6th or 7th round and not be able to replace Shayne? They might even get an upgrade, you know someone that could kick a 45 yarder with no problems? Someone that could kick it into the end zone maybe 20% of the time?

Well good luck Shayne, the first time you miss a 45+ yarder, or the first time you cost us another game or playoff berth with a wide right, just know the boo birds will be out in full force. A suggestion for what to do with all that money you will be stealing, go install a cyborg leg enhancement. If you can go all Robo-Kicker on us and never miss, well then I will take back this whole blog post.


Hoopes said...

Very good points, however I have to disagree. When you look at the lead-scorer of the Bengals for probably the last 2 years, do you really want to get rid of your highest scorer? Ask yourself that, and you shall recieve your answer... As sad of a point as it is, and I may regret saying this, but if the Bengals don't beat an 8-8, or 8-7-1 or however the hell they want to do it season, then I'm leaving them for a winning team, and not just because they're Super Bowl winners last year or anything like that, but I've been researching. I have to admit, I'm impressed with the resume of the Steelers. Although they're a dirty team, they have players that play, coaches that coach, GM's that manage, scouts that scout, and an owner that owns! Everything you want in a team, but the Bengals just don't cut it, but they have one last chance... However, I'm also considering The Colts, just because they've always been my #2!

George Herron said...

The kicker is almost always the highest scorer on the team. They get three points for every field goal and another point for every XP. They are involved on every scoring drive.

Here is a reference to the NFL's all time scoring list.


It is almost all kickers! Just because he was the leading scorer doesn't mean he is worth franchising. Again if it wasn't him for the past 6 years it would have been someone else.

Do you remember who we replaced when we picked up 'Ol Shayne? Neil Rackers. Remember how awful everyone here thought Neil was? Since 2001 Neil has put up 763 points and Shayne has put up 767 points. A whopping 4 point difference. Again I say to you kickers are a dime a dozen and are easily replaceable.

So do I want to replace the Bengals 2nd all time scorer? that is a resounding yes if it means using the franchise tag on someone actually worth it, in a position we need it.

Bonus points to you Hoopes if you can tell me, without looking it up who the #1 all time leading scorer is for the Bengals.

Cleveland Andy said...

Kudos to you George. I never thought I'd see a piece written about a kicker that was longer than 3 sentences. You are a master of your craft, sir.

Since you put forth the effort, I will give you a reaction...the least i could do. You're right. Franchising a kicker from a 5-11 team is "ridikilous." Kickers are always leading scorers for teams, but especially on BAD teams, because BAD team score mostly field goals. Even the Patriots let Vinatieri walk and he won Superbowls...nuff said. Did it matter to them.

This franchise tag is hilarious. they're better off letting him walk, because they have many, many, many other problems. Plus his name is spelled gay.

George Herron said...

Thank you Andy, I knew common sense would eventually prevail!

You are right, his name is spelled gay.

George Herron said...

Jim Breech was the answer Hoopes, another kicker.