The Baltimore Ravens are down to just one restricted free agent who has yet to sign his tender after Justin Tucker inked his deal today.
Tucker signed his $2.356 million contract Thursday morning, and leaves safety Will Hill as the only player not to sign his tender. The deadline for players to sign is Friday.
The Ravens placed a second-round tender on Tucker, meaning any team that wished to pry him away from Baltimore would have been forced to give up a second-round pick. There was reportedly some interest throughout the league, but no team came through with a contract proposal.
Tucker has been quite the bargain for the Ravens since joining the team in 2012 as an undrafted free agent from Texas. The $2.356 million is quite a pay raise for Tucker, who has been operating under his three-year, $1.451 million rookie deal that included no signing bonus.
Steve Bisciotti has said he would like to get Tucker signed to a long-term deal, but at what cost will it be?
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He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2013, and is the most accurate kicker in NFL history. He’s converted 97 of 108 (89.81%) field goals, including 14 of 20 from over 50 yards. He is the second-fastest player to reach 400 points, doing so in just 48 games. Hall of Fame kicked Jan Stenerud did it in 47 games.
He has undoubtably shown that he is the top kicker in football. The question is whether or not the Ravens will pay top dollar for a kicker.
By signing the one-year tender, the Ravens have secured Tucker’s services for another season, and it is still a bargain for the team. The $2.356 million ranks dead middle in the league, the sixteenth-highest contract of 2015 for a kicker.
The team could use the franchise tag on Tucker next season, but that move would make him the highest paid kicker in the NFL. The New England Patriots slapped the franchise tag on Stephen Gostkowski this offseason at a whopping $4.59 million.
The Ravens will have to look at the contracts throughout the league to find fair market value. Baltimore would have to come up with a contract similar to those of Josh Scobee, Sebastian Janikowski and Robbie Gould. Each kicker will make $3.6 million or more in 2015. Tucker will likely command more, and the Ravens should follow through with the deal.
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Tucker already owns several NFL records, and should earn many more over the course of his career. Not only does he make an impact on the field, but people love him for his actions off the field also. I have met him before and he seems like a great guy. The kind of guy you want your daughter to bring home. Sorry ladies, he recently got married.
There is no denying Tucker’s value to the team. John Harbaugh struggled for years to find a replacement once Matt Stover retired, and Tucker has been almost automatic every time he steps on the field. You can’t be upset with a 2014 season in which he finished 29 of 34, and all five missed field goals were over 50 yards.
The Ravens need to do the right thing and get Tucker signed long-term. Otherwise, another team will gladly pay up, and he will set those records elsewhere.