Earlier this week, the Detroit Lions made a somewhat surprising move by releasing veteran kicker Michael Badgley. Their starting kicker for 2022, Badgley had reliable accuracy last season, and many believed he was the favorite to win the job again.
But this offseason, the Lions added two competitors to the room: Parker Romo—fresh off a successful stint in the XFL—and they traded for Riley Patterson, who was in camp for Detroit last year before getting cut and promptly having a solid season with the Jaguars.
On the opening day of training camp, coach Dan Campbell explained why they let go of Badgley.
“It was hard to let Badgley go. That was tough,” Campbell said. “I have a lot respect for Badge, but you know, we wanted to give another look at Patterson. We feel like they’re very similar type players, Badgley and Patterson. We’ll get a look at Patterson.”
The stats from 2022 match what Campbell is saying. Both Badgley and Patterson were very reliable for short-to-medium distances. Patterson was 18-of-19 from 39 yards or less last year and 10-of-13 from 40-49. Badgley was 10-of-11 from 39 yards or less and 8-of-10 from 40-49.
Both kickers, though, have struggled from long distance, and that’s where Romo will get his opportunity to win the job. This year, he nailed a 59-yarder for the San Antonio Brahmas, and shined in OTAs after drilling a 61-yarder in the second week of practice. That said, it sounds like Romo has a bit of work to do to win out the job and may enter camp as second in line.
“We like Romo. He’s kind of the wild card. He has the big leg,” Campbell said. “There’s a level of development to him that needs to take place.
“So we just felt like between those two guys, let’s get a look at them and let them compete against each other. That’s why we did what we did.”
The Lions opened training camp on Sunday, but there were no kicking sessions. We’ll see where the battle progresses over the next month.