30 Best NFL Kickers We’ve Ever Seen
Nearly one of every four NFL games are tighter than lockjaw in the final minutes. Many of those are decided by a placekicker who had lugged his helmet around the sideline for all except a few seconds, only to be thrown into a stomach-churning moment.
So, if kickers are expected to be difference-makers in such pressure situations, then why are only two full-timers (Morten Andersen and Jan Stenerud) in the Hall of Fame (HOF) today? Or if they’re a bunch of jamokes, then why don’t we just tear down the goal posts and give them the boot once and for all?
Here’s our list of the greatest NFL kickers in league history, some of whom the HOF voters have apparently never heard of. Our methodology included a combination of accuracy, clutchness, distance and historical significance (and statistics are through the 2020 season). Do you agree?
30. Don Cockroft
Career: 13 seasons (1968-80)
Teams: Cleveland Browns (1968-80)
Career statistics: 216-328 (.659)/432-457 (.945)
Bottom Line: Don Cockroft
Cockroft had the unenviable task to replace Browns legend Lou Groza — and he did a pretty fair job of it, too. While the best of the two-way kickers was a competent punter, placekicks were his forte.
His 1972 season was extraordinarily good — first in 3-point percentage (.815) and fourth in yards per punt (43.2). He was the league leader in field goal success rate three times in a span of five seasons.
29. Ward Cuff
Career: 11 seasons (1937-47)
Teams: New York Giants (1937-45), Chicago Cardinals (1946), Green Bay Packers (1947)
Career statistics: 43-98 (.439)/156-162 (.963)
Bottom Line: Ward Cuff
You’ve heard the term “triple threat,” right? Well, Cuff was a six-tool player who could run, pass, block, cover, tackle and kick. As the most consistent placekicker in the era before specialists, he led the league in 3-pointers a then record four times.
And his kickoffs were so up there and out there, the league finally had to limit the height of tees.
28. Toni Fritsch
Career: 11 seasons (1971-73, 1975-82)
Teams: Dallas Cowboys (1971-1973, 1975), San Diego Chargers (1976), Houston Oilers (1977-81), New Orleans Saints (1982)
Career statistics: 157-231 (.680)/287-300(.957)
Bottom Line: Toni Fritsch
Fritsch was among the first wave of soccer-style kickers to hit the pro ranks. While his career was somewhat brief, the Austrian made his mark just the same.
He led the league in field-goal percentage three times in four seasons, the best extended run in league history. Through the 1980 campaign, he was the all-time leader in the category (minimum: 200 attempts).
27. Jason Hanson
Career: 21 seasons (1992-2012)
Teams: Detroit Lions (1992-2012)
Career statistics: 495-601 (.824)/665-673 (.988)
Bottom Line: Jason Hanson
The raw numbers suggest that Hanson has been short-changed here. They don’t take into account that he played three out of every five games in a dome, where his conversion rate was a healthy 5.6 percent better than outdoors.
Still, he was highly reliable over an extended period and especially in overtime, where his nine game-winners are tied for the most ever.
26. Sam Baker
Career: 15 seasons (1953, 1956-69)
Teams: Washington Redskins (1953, 1956-59), Cleveland Browns (1960-61), Dallas Cowboys (1962-63), Philadelphia Eagles (1964-69)
Career statistics: 179-316 (.566)/428-444 (.964)
Bottom Line: Sam Baker
Baker remains the only player to lead the league in yards per punt (1958) and field goal percentage (1966) in a season. Now that’s a kicker.
The four-time Pro Bowler was every bit the equal of Lou Groza (stay tuned) when the Browns great was later in his career.
25. Tom Dempsey
Career: 11 seasons (1969-79)
Teams: New Orleans Saints (1969-70), Philadelphia Eagles (1971-74), Los Angeles Rams (1975-76), Houston Oilers (1977), Buffalo Bills (1978-79)
Career statistics: 159-258 (.616)/252-282 (.894)
Bottom Line: Tom Dempsey
This Saint actually performed a miracle. His legendary 63-yard game-winner in the 1970 season stood as the longest field goal in league history for 28 years.
If anyone was capable of it, Stumpy was the one. He checked in at 255 pounds and wore a modified shoe that served as something of a club on his toeless right foot. In a four-year stretch (1970-1973), the premier distance kicker in the league converted 10 field goals of 50 yards or more.
24. Jason Elam
Career: 17 seasons (1993-2009)
Teams: Denver Broncos (1993-2007), Atlanta Falcons (2008-09
Career statistics: 436-540 (.807)/675-679 (.994)
Bottom Line: Jason Elam
Elam benefited from the rarified air of Mile High Stadium for much of his career (plus 4.7 percent), but his resume was as complete as anyone of his time.
He played in two Super Bowls (both wins) and three Pro Bowls. His nine walk-off kicks in overtime are tied for the most in league history. And when the all-time leader in extra point percentage botched one, it qualified as a news bulletin.
23. Sebastian Janikowski
Career: 18 seasons (2000-16, 2018)
Teams: Oakland Raiders (2000-16), Seattle Seahawks (2018)
Career statistics: 436-542 (.804)/605-614 (.985)
Bottom Line: Sebastian Janikowski
When Janikowski clubbed the ball, the thump reverberated like no other. He ranks 54th in career field-goal percentage, but don’t believe it.
Forty-seven of the misses (44 percent) came from 50 yards or beyond, where he had a 55 percent success rate. Pure and simple, he attempted many a kick that few other coaches would dare even consider.
22. Mark Moseley
Career: 16 seasons (1970-72, 1974-86)
Teams: Philadelphia Eagles (1970), Houston Oilers (1971-72), Washington Redskins (1974-86), Cleveland Browns (1986)
Career statistics: 300-457-169 (.656)/482-512 (.941)
Bottom Line: Mark Moseley
Think this list would be complete without the only placekicker to be selected league Most Valuable Player in league history? Moseley was the last of the straight-on types, a 14th-round draft pick out of Stephen F. Austin who beat the odds in more ways than one.
In a four-year stretch (1977-80), he converted nearly 40 percent (10-of-26) of his attempts from 50 yards and beyond, which gave him a leg up on the competition.
21. Matt Prater
Career: 14 seasons (2007-present)
Teams: Atlanta Falcons (2007), Denver Broncos (2007-13), Detroit Lions (2014-2020), Arizona Cardinals (present)
Career statistics: 322-388 (.830)/496-508 (.976)
Bottom Line: Matt Prater
Prater is the most prolific long-range kicker in league history. He owns the most career field goals of 50-plus yards (59 in a mere 79 tries) as well as the longest (64 yards) in league history.
Because the guy has played approximately one-third of his games in domes, where his field goal rate was a robust 6.6 percent better than elsewhere, he was moved down a few spots on our list.
20. John Carney
Career: 23 seasons (1988-2010)
Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1988-89), Los Angeles Rams (1980), San Diego Chargers (1980-2000), New Orleans Saints (2001-06, 2009-10), Jacksonville Jaguars (2007), Kansas City Chiefs (2007), New York Giants (2008)
Career statistics: 478-580 (.824)/628-638 (.984)
Bottom Line: John Carney
Few NFL kickersperformed at a comparable high level for as long as Carney, who went undrafted out of Notre Dame then played for-ev-er. He was good, not great from long distance.
We place a lot of importance on the clutch factor, though, as the guy was perhaps his best when the game was on the line.
19. Rob Bironas
Career: 9 seasons (2005-13)
Teams: Tennessee Titans (2005-13)
Career statistics: 239-279 (.857)/315-317 (.994)
Bottom Line: Rob Bironas
Bironas began his career in the Arena Football League, where the undrafted free agent was the best darn kicker in Charleston Swamp Fox history. When the Titans finally gave him a chance at 27 years of age, he didn’t disappoint anyone.
The guy kicked for accuracy (No. 13 overall) and distance (71 percent from midfield and beyond) and in the clutch. A car wreck claimed his life and career much too early.
18. Pete Gogolak
Career: 11 seasons (1964-74)
Teams: AFL Buffalo Bills (1964-65), New York Giants (1966-74)
Career statistics: 173-294 (.588)/432-457 (.972)
Bottom Line: Pete Gogolak
Gogolak was one of the true pioneers of the position. Not only did the Cornell product introduce the soccer style to the pro ranks, but he also helped forge the AFL-NFL merger when the Giants signed him away from the rival league.
At the time of his retirement, he held team records for the most consecutive extra points without a miss (133) as well as field goals made (126) and attempted (219).
17. Stephen Gostkowski
Career: 15 seasons (2006-2019, Tennessee Titans (2020)
Teams: New England Patriots (2006-2019), Tennessee Titans (2020)
Career statistics: 392-454 (.863)/699-712 (.982)
Bottom Line: Stephen Gostkowski
If Adam Vinatieri hadn’t preceded him, we bet Gostkowski would get more respect. The three-time Super Bowl champion was money up to 53 yards and boasted some of the clutch gene himself.
Gillette Stadium didn’t cut him any slack, either.
16. Matt Stover
Career: 19 seasons (1991-2009)
Teams: Cleveland Browns (1991-95), Baltimore Ravens (1996-2008), Indianapolis Colts (2009)
Career statistics: 471-563 (.837)/591-594 (.995)
Bottom Line: Matt Stover
Yeah, we know about Ray Lewis and his co-conspirators on defense, but Stover had as much to do with their Super Bowl XXXV championship as anyone else. In five close calls in the regular season, he drained 21-of-22 kick attempts.
While the guy didn’t possess a big leg — 41 percent (13-of-32) from 50-plus yards — his clutch ability puts him high on the list.
15. Matt Bryant
Career: 18 seasons (2002-19)
Teams: New York Giants (2002-03), Indianapolis Colts (2004), Miami Dolphins (2004), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2005-08), Atlanta Falcons (2009-19)
Career statistics: 397-464 (.856), 567-575 (.986)
Bottom Line: Matt Bryant
Bryant and Jason Hanson were similar — consistently accurate for an extended period although not always for great distances.
The differences: This guy played 26 percent fewer games indoors and ranks among best pressure kickers of all time.
14. George Blanda
Career: 26 seasons (1949-58, 1960-75)
Teams: Chicago Bears (1949-58), Baltimore Colts (1951) AFL Houston Oilers (1960-66), AFL Oakland Raiders (1967-69), Oakland Raiders (1970-80)
Career statistics: 335-639 (.524)/943-959 (.983)
Bottom Line: George Blanda
Remarkably, the older Blanda got, the more efficient he became. And the ageless wonder played in all or parts of four decades.
In his 40s, he connected at a 63 percent clip, which was 8 percent better than the league norm.
13. Garo Yepremian
Career: 14 seasons (1966-67, 1970-81)
Teams: Detroit Lions (1966-67), Miami Dolphins (1970-78), New Orleans Saints (1979), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1980-81)
Career statistics: 210-313 (.671)/444-464 (.957)
Bottom Line: Garo Yepremian
As his Super Bowl VII folly confirmed, Yepremian sucked as a passer. But the two-time All-Pro sure could kick a football. The First Team All-1970s pick was the most accurate placekicker of the decade.
The 5-foot-8, 165-pounder wasn’t big on long shots — three of his five 50-plus-yarders came with the unbeaten ’72 Dolphins — or else he would be higher in the order.
12. Josh Brown
Career: 14 seasons (2003-16)
Teams: Seattle Seahawks (2003-07), St. Louis Rams (2008-11), Cincinnati Bengals (2012), New York Giants (2013-16)
Career statistics: 319-380 (.839)/438-441 (.993)
Bottom Line: Josh Brown
Brown checked the three big boxes in his career — accuracy, distance and clutchness. He ranks among the all-time leaders in points scored (32nd), field goals (27th), field-goal percentage (32nd), extra points (39th) and extra-point percentage (14th).
Hard to believe that he took part in only one Pro Bowl Game — at 36 years of age. Un-der-ra-ted!
11. Robbie Gould
Career: 16 seasons (2005-present)
Teams: Chicago Bears (2005-15), New York Giants (2016), San Francisco 49ers (2017-present)
Career statistics: 402-465 (.865)/536-550 (.975)
Bottom Line: Robbie Gould
Gould converted at least 83 percent of field goal tries in all except three of his 16 seasons. Yet the Bears kicked him to the curb prior to the 2016 campaign in favor of ... Connor Barth?
The higher-ups have been in search of the next Robbie Gould ever since.
10. Pat Summerall
Career: 10 seasons (1952-61)
Teams: Detroit Lions (1952), Chicago Cardinals (1953-57), New York Giants (1958-61)
Career statistics: 100-212 (.472)/257-265 (.970)
Bottom Line: Pat Summerall
It wasn’t until Summerall arrived in New York that he became one of the best placekickers around. Clutch? He didn’t miss a kick (9-of-9) in the postseason. The most significant was a miraculous 49-yarder in the cold and snow of Yankee Stadium that forced a one-game playoff in the 1958 season.
Otherwise, there’s no epic overtime league championship game two weeks later, and pro football doesn’t become the National Pastime until who knows when.
9. Gary Anderson
Career: 23 seasons (1982-2004)
Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers (1982-94), Philadelphia Eagles (1995-96), San Francisco 49ers (1997), Minnesota Vikings (1998-2002), Tennessee Titans (2003-04)
Career statistics: 538-672 (.801)/820-827 (.992)
Bottom Line: Gary Anderson
Anderson booted only a dozen field goals of 50-or-more yards in his career, but the should-be Hall of Famer was money everywhere else.Of the 62 qualifiers with career 80-plus percent conversion rates, he’s the only one to have played in at least half of the 1980s decade.
In the 1998 season, he drained an insane 106 consecutive kicks until his final attempt, a narrow 38-yard miss that almost certainly would have sent the Vikings to Super Bowl XXXIII.
8. Jim Bakken
Career: 17 seasons (1962-78)
Teams: St. Louis Cardinals (1962-78)
Career statistics: 282-447 (.631)/534-553 (.966)
Bottom Line: Jim Bakken
Bakken didn’t have a howitzer for a right leg, but he was the most accurate kicker of his time. The guy was a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro and First Team All-1960s and Second Team All-1970s selection.
In other words, he deserves to have a bust in Canton, Ohio.
7. Nick Lowery
Career: 18 seasons (1978, 1980-96)
Teams: New England Patriots (1978), Kansas City Chiefs (1980-93), New York Jets (1994-96)
Career statistics: 383-479 (.800)/562-568 (.989)
Bottom Line: Nick Lowery
While Lowery didn’t pack Morten Andersen-type power, his right leg was plenty strong enough. In terms of accuracy, he set the bar for two decades.
Don’t forget that he played almost all of his home games at Arrowhead Stadium or the Meadowlands, neither of which did kickers any favors.
6. Morten Andersen
Career: 25 seasons (1982-2004, 2006-07)
Teams: New Orleans Saints (1982-94), Atlanta Falcons (1995-2000, 2006-07). New York Giants (2001), Kansas City Chiefs (2002-03), Minnesota Vikings (2004)
Career statistics: 565-709 (.797)/849-859 (.988)
Bottom Line: Morten Andersen
Granted, Andersen had an advantage to play more than half of his home games indoors, but his success rate was a scant 2.4 percent better there. For accuracy and especially distance, there was nobody better for two decades.
He was a First Team All-Decade selection in the 1980s and 1990s. Suffice it to say, the Hall of Fame is a better place with him there.
5. Justin Tucker
Career: 9 seasons (2012-present)
Teams: Baltimore Ravens (2012-present)
Career statistics: 293-323 (.907)/353-357 (.989)
Bottom Line: Justin Tucker
Fifth?! How can the most accurate placekicker in NFL history be fifth, you %$#@?!
Calm down, kids. Remember, this list is about more than hard, cold numbers. That said, we would take Tucker over any other kicker in the regular season any time, any place. His average missed field goal is 50.8 yards, for goodness sakes.
4. Adam Vinatieri
Career: 24 seasons (1996-2019)
Teams: New England Patriots (1996-2005), Indianapolis Colts (2006-19)
Career statistics: 599-715 (.838)/874-898 (.973)
Bottom Line: Adam Vinatieri
A few placekickers have been more accurate in league history. Others have boasted stronger legs. But none have been more clutch than this one in the postseason, when clutch is everything. Overall, the modern GOAT ranks first in career 3-pointers and attempts in addition to points scored.
3. Jan Stenerud
Career: 19 seasons (1967-85)
Teams: AFL Kansas City Chiefs (1967-69), Kansas City Chiefs 1970-79), Green Bay Packers (1980-83), Minnesota Vikings (1984-85)
Career statistics: 373-558 (.668)/580-601 (.965)
Bottom Line: Jan Stenerud
As the first consistent long-distance threat in pro ball, Stenerud did much to change the perception of kickers as irrelevant runts.
The 6-foot-2 Norwegian side-winder retired with the most field goals (373) and field goals of 50-plus yards (17) in league history.
2. Ben Agajanian
Career: 13 seasons (1945, 1947-49, 1953-57, 1960-62, 1964)
Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers (1945), Philadelphia Eagles (1945), AAFC Los Angeles Dons (1947-48), New York Giants (1949, 1954-57), Los Angeles Rams (1953), AFL Los Angeles-San Diego Chargers (1960, 1964), AFL Dallas Texans (1961), Green Bay Packers (1961), AFL Oakland Raiders (1962)
Career statistics: 128-145 (.883)/141-155 (.910)
Bottom Line: Ben Agajanian
Agajanian was the godfather of placekickers, the first such specialist in pro ball. Despite four severed toes on his right foot, the rest of an industrial accident that would require a specially designed square-toe shoe, Bootin’ Ben played for the ’56 Giants and ’61 Packers and was the league leader in field-goal percentage on two occasions. He was a long-time Dallas Cowboys consultant in his later years.
As ex-teammate Tom Landry once said, “(Agajanian) has done more for the kicking game in both college and the pros in the past 50 years than anybody I know.”
1. Lou Groza
Career: 21 seasons (1946-67)
Teams: AAFC Cleveland Browns (1946-49), Cleveland Browns (1950-67)
Career statistics: 264-481 (.549)/810-833 (.972)
Bottom Line: Lou Groza
Groza didn’t invent the position, but he did more than anyone to enhance its importance and give it some cred. His 1953 season (23-of-26 FGAs, 39-of-40 EPAs) was 50 years ahead of its time.
Mind you, The Toe also excelled at offensive tackle in one of the most potent offenses of the era. Fittingly, the Lou Groza Award is presented to the best college placekicker each year.