In May of 2021, the Patriots signed an undrafted free agent kicker out of Michigan, Quinn Nordin. This contract was two months after agreeing to bring back Nick Folk on a one-year deal. After a good camp, Nordin made the Patriots’ 53-man roster. And 15 days later, they moved Nordin to the injured reserve. Flash forward ten months later, and the Patriots signed Tristan Vizcaino and moved Nordin to the Non-Football Injury list, but why?
pic.twitter.com/BdPyzwx4kd — Quinn Nordin (@QuinnNordin) May 5, 2021
Injured Kicker Quinn Nordin Still Around Foxboro.
To understand that, we have to look at Nordin’s history. The “Punt God” Matt Araiza was supposed to be on the Patriots’ draft board. He could boom both punts and field goals. Nordin, in high school, was also doing the same thing, playing punter and kicker.
Rockford High School published, “A 65-yard field goal is not out of Nordin’s range either, as he actually made a 65-yard field goal at a KornBlue camp in Florida in 2014. Along with outstanding range as a placekicker, Nordin has averaged close to 40 yards per punt the last two years and routinely puts his kickoff into or out of the end zone.” https://www.mlive.com/highschoolsports/article/rockfords-quinn-nordin-kicking-his-way-to-top-level-of-football/
Nordin’s tape of 65 yards got the attention of both Penn State and Michigan. Jim Harbaugh spent the night at Nordin’s house to recruit him. Nordin would set the record for the longest field goal in Cottom Bowl history.
Aaron McMann wrote, “Junior Quinn Nordin booted a 57-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter on Wednesday, giving the 14th-ranked Wolverines a 16-14 lead over the Crimson Tide.
The kick not only set a new career high for Nordin, who kicked a 55-yard field goal against Florida in 2017, but shattered the record for the 74-year, Orlando-based bowl game. It ties Hayden Epstein’s Michigan record in 2001.” https://www.mlive.com/wolverines/2020/01/michigans-quinn-nordin-sets-citrus-bowl-record-with-57-yard-fg.html
Nordin went 42 of 58 at Michigan, kicking 5 of 10 from 50 plus with a long of 57. Nordin also went 10 of 14 from 40 to 49 yards. Kicking the long kicks in Michigan is difficult for anyone. The big knock entering the NFL was consistency. And even when Nordin was looking good in the summer of 2021, coach Bill Belichick was still working on it.
Belichick said as transcribed by WEEI, “Yeah, I mean, we’ll take a look at it. Hit a couple good ones, missed an extra point. It’s all about consistency. Quinn has gotten better. He’s worked hard. But again, it’s really about consistency at that position. We’re getting there. We’ll see what kind of progress he continues to make.” https://www.audacy.com/weei/sports/patriots/patriots-rookie-kicker-quinn-nordin-is-already-fan-favorite
That would later be echoed by Cam Achord, “He’s got to continue to improve that consistency and keep showing it…” “But I think that’s definitely one of the things you have to consider when you’re evaluating younger guys, older guys — where are these guys and where could these guys end up being and where can they be?” https://www.bostonherald.com/2021/09/01/why-did-the-patriots-pick-rookie-k-quinn-nordin-over-nick-folk/
Nordin made the Patriots’ 53-man roster in 2021 but was soon moved to the Injured reserve with an abdominal injury. Nordin was brought back and would eventually be signed to a future contract in January 2022, only to be waived to the Non-football injury list. Again, why?
The Patriots signed Tristan Vizcaino for camp. A kicker who only attempted 20 kicks in college and struggled to make 60 percent of them. He’s on his eighth team since 2017 and has a career-long of 47 yards. Vizcaino is not a threat to Nick Folk, and with his weak leg and accuracy issues, he shouldn’t be a threat to Nordin.
Folk is 37 years old with an injury history to the lower body. Folk dealt with a knee issue in 2021. The Patriots earlier this year signed Folk to a two-year five million dollar contract. He’ll be 39 when his contract expires. Like Nordin, Folk has dealt with consistency issues in the past. And Folk had a career field goal average of 79.5 percent before joining the Patriots.
Ben Nadeau wrote, “To many, kicking shouldn’t be an entirely difficult concept to grasp — an athlete just needs to kick the ball as hard as possible, right? Wrong! Kickers with powerful legs may have a tiny advantage distance-wise, but the mechanics, fundamentals, and steps are something that can only be practiced.” https://www.coachup.com/nation/articles/drill-of-the-week-kicking-field-goals
Nordin’s consistency problems take time to fix but are very fixable. And the Patriots have Nick Folk riding high, coming off two years where he kicked over 90 percent on field goals. So unless something changes, the reason the Patriots are keeping Nordin is that they are developing him. And they are getting him ready to replace Folk.
Nobody has seen anything from Nordin since the 2021 preseason. So the best thing for the Patriots is to ensure nobody continues to see anything from him until the Patriots are ready. Currently, the Patriots do not have to list his injury, which means he doesn’t have to be injured.
There’s a chance that Nordin could make it to the practice squad but having him spend another year on the injured reserve with the “Foxboro flu” while he works with a kicking coach in his spare time makes more sense as teams love to pouch each other’s players.
Nordin has a unique leg and has shown flashes that anything mid-field or closer is in his range when he’s on. That means the Patriots only have to move the ball approximately 30 yards on a touchback to get him into range, 35 yards if they want to be safe. With that kind of a cannon, the Patriots want to make sure they do all they can to develop him. And that is why he’s still around, even though they have two healthy kickers.
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