Instead of handing the kicking job to McLaughin though, the Bucs have added some competition for him. They are signing veteran kicker Rodrigo Blankenship as the team welcomed him to Tampa Bay on Thursday.
The signing of Blankenship means that two former Colts kickers will now be battling it out for the Buccaneers' starting kicking job. Blankenship only played in three NFL games last season, but that had a lot to do with his health. The kicker had a torn muscle in his leg that he had surgically repaired in January, and now, he appears to be completely healthy.
Blankenship started his career with the Colts in 2020 and had an impressive rookie year, hitting 86.5% of his field goal attempts (32 of 37). However, he's struggled to stay healthy since then. In 2021, he only played in five games due to Texans where he missed a 42-yard field goal in overtime that would have won the game.in the season. In 2022, the Colts cut Blankenship following a Week 1 tie with the
In a twist, the Colts ended up signing McLaughlin to replace Blankenship last season. McLaughlin was the Colts' kicker for the team's final 16 games after Blankenship was released.
This will definitely be an interesting competition and it's hard to say who has the edge. Although Blankenship has been a much more accurate kicker from inside 50 yards -- he's hit 88.2% of his kicks from that range in his career while McLaughlin has hit just 78.1% -- McLaughlin has been much better from long range.
Over the course of his career, McLaughlin has hit 81% of his kicks from 50 yards or more (17 of 21) while Blankenship has hit just 40% (2 of 5). One reason the Buccaneers moved on from Succop is because he struggled from long range -- he went just 3 of 10 from beyond 50 during his three seasons in Tampa Bay -- so the Buccaneers may be looking for a kicker with a slightly stronger leg this year.
No matter what happens, the kicking battle in Tampa Bay should be a fun one to watch this summer.