In somewhat surprising roster moves, the Tennessee Titans cut cornerback Johnathan Joseph, linebacker Vic Beasley and long snapper Beau Brinkley in the last 48 hours, changes that General Manager Jon Robinson said were “best for the team.”
The 36-year-old Joseph had lost a step or two and wasn’t exactly a great option in coverage as he was regularly getting beat by younger, quicker receivers. Brinkley had two bad miscues in back-to-back weeks — one leading to Pro Bowl punter Brett Kern getting injured — and Beasley was the poster boy for free agent bust with just three tackles in five games and zero sacks.
But if Robinson was indeed cutting underperforming players, then it was rather curious the team kept kicker Stephen Gostkowski and didn’t look to bring in other options.
It’s not like the Titans don’t have alternatives. They have on the practice squad rookie Tucker McCann, who enjoyed an impressive training camp and smashed a few kicks from 50-plus yards.
There are also free agents such as Stephen Haushka (85.2 career field goal percentage) or the recently-retired 29-year-old Chandler Catanzaro (83.8 career field goal percentage), who could probably be talked out of retirement.
“[Gostkowski’s] had a few blocks,” Robinson said. “He's won games for us too, though. He came back in that Denver game and hit a ball and won that game and hit a ball in Jacksonville game to win the game for us…But we got confidence in Steve.”
Of all kickers with 10 or more attempts, Gostkowski leads the NFL in missed field goals (10 of 17) and his 58.8 field goal percent is the worst of his 15-year career. His two blocked kicks are also the most in the league.
Gosktowski’s missed 45-yard would-have-been-game-tying field goal against Pittsburgh two weeks ago possibly yielded the Titans' first loss of the season. And last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, he missed a 53-yarder that would have tied the game 3-3. Instead, the Bengals had a short field and drove down to take a 10-0 lead.
But for all of his struggles, Gostkowski made three straight game-winning kicks for the Titans in the first three games of the year. Also, he is 5-for-6 from 50 yards or more, tying him with Brandon McManus for the most 50-yard-plus field goals in the NFL.
“He's a pro,” Robinson said. “He handles pressure and I'm sure he puts more pressure on himself than we do. But we’ve got confidence in him to go out there and put a foot on the ball and put it through.”
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_