Freddie Kitchens won’t say it, but he seems to be growing impatient with the Browns struggling kicking game.
Greg Joseph missed a 53-yarder wide right and fifth-round pick Austin Seibert missed a 52-yarder wide left in Cleveland’s 21-18 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the second preseason game on Saturday.
Seibert, the second overall kicker drafted in 2019, has had a very worrisome training camp after a stellar college career with Oklahoma. Joseph, who kicked in 13 games for the Browns last year, has had a seemingly better camp but has still struggled with his extra-point conversions.
“We need somebody that can put the ball between the two yellow poles,’’ Kitchens said on a conference call Sunday.
The issue for the Browns is becoming rapidly apparent; neither of the kickers they currently have in camp can get the ball between those yellow uprights on a consistent basis. Unless the incumbent Joseph or the rookie Seibert can surprisingly impress in the next two preseason games and the next six practices, Kitchens and John Dorsey might be forced to take a look at another kicker.
Remember, Dorsey brought in Joseph before Week 3 of last year’s season. He’s not afraid to shake things up at the kicker position.
Another issue that faces the Browns kicking decision is the fact that there are not too many good free agent kickers out there. The popular choice is Matt Bryant, who is 44 years old now and hasn’t been looked at by any teams this offseason. Bryant made a 57-yarder among going 20-for-21 on field goals, though he did miss two extra points.
Mike Nugent, Kai Forbath, and Cody Parkey are the other veteran kickers still on the market. None of those names really have had extended success in the NFL. Younger kickers available are Matt McCrane, who was released from the Steelers and Chandler Catanzaro, who curiously retired from the Jets.
Cleveland-native and Walsh Jesuit alumni Ross Martin is still available and recently had a workout with the Colts. Martin had a very impressive camp with the Browns last year but lost the kicking competition to Zane Gonzalez.
Petitioning on social media for the return of Phil Dawson, who ceremonially signed a one-day contract to retire with the Browns earlier this month, could be the most appealing option. It’s probably not a realistic one, though.
Another unrealistic option would be to ask Jamie Gillan to switch over from punter to kicker. Nicknamed “The Scottish Hammer,” Gillan both kicked and punted during his college days at Arkansas Pine Bluff, but has continually impressed as a punter in camp with the Browns.
When asked if the Browns would take a look at signing another kicker, Kitchens hesitated.
“Um … I mean … we have ongoing discussions about everything,” he said.