Unafraid to admit their mistake, the Bucs have released beleaguered place-kicker Roberto Aguayo just a little over a year after taking him in the second round.
Aguayo, whose 71 percent field goal percentage was the worst in the NFL as a rookie, likely sealed his fate by missing and extra point and a 47-yard field goal attempt in Friday's preseason loss at Cincinnati. Those misses came after he connected on his first kick, a 20-yard field goal to five the Bucs a 3-0 lead.
Jets veteran Nick Folk, whom the Bucs signed in March, would appear to have the inside track on the job as the only place-kicker remaining on the roster. Folk connectrd on a 45-yard field goal in Friday's game. Although it was his only attempt, Folk's kick was two yards further than Aguayo's longest field goal in 2016.
The Bucs traded up into the second round to draft Aguayo after he was an All-American kicker at Florida State. The Bucs had turned to young kickers in each of the previous two seasons, with first-year player Pat Murray in 2014 and rookie Kyle Brindza in 2015; Brindza struggled enough that he was released and replaced by veteran Connor Barth a month later.
Aguayo missed an extra point on his first preseason kick, hitting the left upright, but he would go 8-for-10 on field goals and 7-for-7 on extra points the rest of the preseason. He struggled as a rookie, connecting on only 71 percent of his field goals. He also missed two extra points.
That uncertainty led to the Bucs signing of Folk, who had been cut by the Jets in part because he was due to make $3-million in 2017. Folk was given a $1.75-million contract by the Bucs, including $750,000 guaranteed, more than Aguayo's entire 2017 salary. They had made it clear at that point that they were willing to move on from even a high draft pick if a better options was available for the team's success.
Aguayo sat alone for a few minutes after dressing at his locker following Friday's game. He took a deep breath and appeared to be saying a prayer before turning to face reporters.
“Honestly, the (extra point) felt good,’’ Aguayo said. “When I caught it, I knew I pushed it a little bit and I was like, ‘hopefully it will stay in,’ but it hit the upright. Unlucky. And the last one, I was trying to get a good hit on it. I hit it good and it just started to fade. Not what you want. Not what I wanted. Obviously, not up to the standards that I want. You just have to keep your head up and move onto the next day.''
Asked if he thought he may have cost himself a job with Friday's performance, Aguayo said, "You wanted to come out and be perfect. I did some good things. I hit some good kickoffs. I had a field goal in there but at the end of the day, it wasn’t what I wanted. I’ve just got to put it in the past. It’s a new day.’’
But it turned out to be his last in a Bucs uniform.
Bucs Dirk Koetter appeared to have lost all faith in Aguayo after Friday's game.
“You know, I keep saying it, I can’t say it anymore,'' Koetter said. "If you’re a kicker, you’ve got to make your kicks.’’