Maybe Chase McLaughlin finally found his NFL home with the Cleveland Browns.
When the young kicker hit free agency, it looked like he would sign with his 7th team in 4 NFL seasons.
And when the Browns signed Chris Blewitt to a futures contract, the door appeared to close a little tighter.
We have re-signed K Chase McLaughlin
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) April 5, 2022
But Andrew Berry re-signed McLaughlin today.
McLaughlin won the kicking job last season by default after Cody Parkey was injured.
He showed some leg in training camp and got off to a strong start, hitting his first 9 field goal attempts.
Have a feeling 57-yard field goals aren’t as easy as Chase McLaughlin made it lookpic.twitter.com/DlhjDPptmw
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) September 26, 2021
But he converted only 6 of his next 11 tries and also missed an extra point during that stretch.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski did not call on the field goal team over the last 2 games of 2021.
And when the team did not tender McLaughlin after the season, he seemed unlikely to return.
McLaughlin’s Status Is Not Set
Chris Blewitt will probably get a legitimate shot at displacing McLaughlin during training camp.
The second-year kicker showed a strong leg in 2 games with the Washington Commanders.
He hit his only 50+ yard attempt and put 4 of his 5 kickoffs into the end zone.
Unfortunately, he missed 3 out of 4 other field goal attempts, all from the 40-49 yard range.
When #Browns Kicker Chase McLaughlin drilled this 41 yard FG after making one from 57 earlier
Announcer: “That’s child’s play” 😂 pic.twitter.com/PBQoMKxn3T
— SportsUpdateOhio™ (@SportsUpdateOH) October 2, 2021
McLaughlin became a fan favorite for a spell by hitting all four of his attempts from beyond 50 yards.
This was just a year after the Browns did not ask Cody Parkey to attempt a single long-range field goal.
While Stefanski’s aggressive fourth-down demeanor had much to do with that, Parkey’s range was questioned.
McLaughlin will have to show better consistency if he is to win the Browns’ job in 2022.
Will Browns Draft Another Kicker?
Andrew Berry reportedly planned to draft kicker Evan McPherson in the later rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Those rumors prompted the Cincinnati Bengals to take the rookie sensation off the board in the 5th.
Cleveland’s recent kicking woes are not likely to be resolved by McLaughlin and Blewitt.
That has fans clamoring for Berry to draft the next McPherson this year.
— Pro Football Culture (@proftblculture) December 20, 2021
There are few available free agents with significant histories of NFL success.
Most teams re-signed the kickers they are comfortable with.
But at the end of each training camp, veterans land back on the market as young guns win competitions.
So McLaughlin and Blewitt need to win over coaches before those August 31st final roster cuts.