Not long ago, Mike Nugent was considered one of the NFL’s better placekickers. But during the 2016 season, Nugent’s performance has taken a significant nosedive, prompting the Bengals on Tuesday to release a player who ranks as the team’s No. 3 scorer of all time. After watching Randy Bullock nail all three field goals that he attempted in the Steelers’ most recent home game against the New York Giants, Cincinnati signed him and handed Nugent his walking papers.
To be sure, Nugent’s stats had plunged dramatically this season. Not only has he been unsuccessful on field goals beyond 50 yards this season, he’s also missed six extra points. With a 79.3% field goal percentage this season, Nugent ranks 24th in the league, and his extra point percentage places him next-to-last in the league. Despite Nugent’s dismal stats, though, the timing of this move—just five days before arch rival Pittsburgh comes to town for a Sunday matchup—seems a bit unusual to say the least.
But considering the Bengals’ disappointing performance so far in 2016, plus the well-known fact that Cincinnati would love nothing better than to snap the Steelers’ current winning streak, perhaps we should have anticipated a bit of pre-game drama.
Obviously, it would be icing on the cake for Cincinnati if the same guy who donned a Steelers uniform only a week ago ended up booting a game-winning FG. Then again, Bullock’s career numbers with the extended extra point, and field goals, are far from stellar. He could also miss a key kick to help the Steelers.
And so the plot thickens.