The Miami Dolphins didn’t draft Caleb Sturgis in the 5th round so he could pressure Dan Carpenter. They drafted him to replace him. It shouldn’t be a surprise now that after his 58 yard field goal against Jacksonville that Sturgis is primed to take the position over for good and in essence booting Dan Carpenter out of Miami.
Some will tell you, it was one kick. Carpenter has been solid since his arrival in Miami but inconsistency the last two seasons has been a problem. Last year two games were directly decided on missed FG attempts. Inside the 50. The Dolphins entered the 2012 camp with no competition for their incumbent starter. They easily could have signed a street free agent to push the veteran. Instead they opted to replace him.
Caleb “the Fish” Sturgis as I have called him since before the draft comes to Miami with a strong leg and on Friday showcased his deep ball. Sturgis put all but one ball out of the endzone on kick-offs and that lone return was actually taken out of the end zone by the Jaguar returner. Sturgis has been relatively consistent in training camp thus far. So has Dan Carpenter but this isn’t an “all things being equal” competition.
Sturgis is not battling Carpenter. It’s the other way around. Carpenter can’t simply be “neck and neck” in this process. He needs to be “head and shoulders” above his rookie threat. Carpenter comes with a much larger salary and a history of missed important field goals. Sturgis has pressure but not in the same vein. He can play a neck and neck camp and come out on top. Expectations may be higher on Sturgis but the reality is this is his competition to lose and he isn’t doing that yet. In fact, he is not simply running neck and neck with Carpenter but is pulling ahead.
Now it comes down to Carpenters future. What will the Dolphins do with him? For starters releasing the veteran is likely and Carpenter will have no trouble finding work in the NFL even around his current salary. Trades for kickers are very rare in the NFL but not unheard of. The Dolphins should be actively shopping the veteran and it’s likely that they will not outright release him until after the final pre-season game but as that game approaches the value that Carpenter has will go down. Teams know that his future in Miami is coming to an end.
Carpenter will likely net only a 7th round pick. A 6th would be generous. However the team could make a play for another player that a team may deem on the bubble. An aging veteran offensive lineman that a team wants to let go for a younger up and comer could be something the Dolphins take into consideration. Options should all be open. It’s hard to predict another teams desire or need for a kicker but there are plenty of teams in the NFL with questionable kickers and Carpenter when he is on his game is better than half the current NFL rostered kickers.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions heading into the next several weeks for this team but who will be the teams kicker doesn’t appear to be one of those.