Mike Nugent is back where it all began. Kind of.
It’s been so long since Nugent was a kicker for a New York football team that he’s never actually called MetLife Stadium home. When he was with the Jets as their second-round pick from 2005 to 2008, they still played at Giants Stadium.
But signing with the Giants on Tuesday did bring his career back to the Big Apple and has the 13-year veteran excited.
“It almost feels like my rookie year, coming to a new place, but it’s also very familiar,” Nugent said after his first workout with his new team. “It’s really cool to be back.”
It’s also different because back then with the Jets he was the young kid trying to carve out a place in the NFL. This summer with the Giants, he’s at the other end of the spectrum. He was brought in to compete with rookie Aldrick Rosas, who has been the only kicker on the Giants’ roster for most of the spring and through the first few days of training camp.
The process of bringing Nugent to the Giants happened quickly. He had been working out on his own as a free agent in Arizona but was on vacation visiting family in Ohio when the Giants called on Sunday night. They brought him in for a workout on Monday and he was on the field with the team on Tuesday.
The Giants had a roster spot to sign Nugent after undrafted rookie safety Jadar Johnson announced his retirement from football over the weekend. But Sunday also was the first day Rosas kicked field goals for the Giants in camp. All four were good, if not shaky. The last attempt was ruled wide by the officials on the scene, but video later showed the ball went directly over the upright. That technically would have made it good, but had the uprights been at official height (45 feet off the ground) the ball would likely have hit the pole and there’s no way of knowing whether it would have bounced in or not.
Ben McAdoo said the Giants always planned to bring in a veteran to compete for the job.
Nugent said he was keeping an eye on the Giants’ situation this offseason given that they were without an experienced kicker on the roster. He was not surprised when he got the call.
Rosas said he welcomes Nugent’s presence and believes he can learn from the veteran. Nugent said he, too, is looking forward to working with Rosas. Only one of them, though, can be the kicker when the Giants face the Cowboys on Sept. 10.
On Tuesday, Rosas handled all of the field goals and was good from 30, 37, 42 and 50 yards. Nugent did not kick because he did so on Monday during the tryout.
Nugent, 35, has played for the Jets, Bucs, Cardinals and, for the previous seven seasons, the Bengals. He has made 236 of 292 field goal attempts (80.8%) and 344 of 355 extra-point tries for 1,052 points. That ties him with Nick Folk and Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith for 50th on the NFL’s career scoring list. He missed six extra points with the Bengals last season, though, and was cut before the season ended.
Nugent said he probably deserved that fate, but he believes he has rectified the issue which was mostly mental and is ready to get back to the kind of success he’s had for most of his career.
In the same market where that career started.