BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick went off the board when he selected kicker Justin Rohrwasser in the fifth round of the draft. It seems as though he might have reached too far.
The team released Rohrwasser after a very shaky showing throughout training camp this summer, according to The Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels. The report indicated the Patriots hope to keep Rohrwasser on the practice squad, if the kicker goes unclaimed on waivers.
Patriots are releasing Justin Rohrwasser, per source. Sounds like the Patriots want Rohrwasser on the practice squad.
Nick Folk has won the Patriots kicking competition.
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) September 5, 2020
Here’s where the real twist comes, though: Shortly after the Rohrwasser news broke, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe said that Nick Folk was being released, too.
The Patriots released Nick Folk, according to a source. So they're starting over at kicker.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) September 5, 2020
Those moves leave the Patriots with no kicker, meaning they’ll need to act fast to get their Week 1 kicker on the roster.
The Patriots could either sign someone new, claim a released player off waivers, or bring Folk back next week after some roster potential short-term injury reserve moves are made.
Rohrwasser went 18-for-21 on field goals in his final collegiate season at Marshall, and he was extremely accurate from long distance. He also successfully kicked 118 of 123 PATs in his collegiate career.
Immediately after he was drafted, Rohrwasser became the subject of controversy, after Twitter users pointed out his “Three Percenters” tattoo. Rohrwasser renounced any association with the group and reportedly had the tattoo removed.
Once in camp, Rohrwasser was either hurt, inaccurate, or a combination of both. That lack of reliability led to the team bringing back veteran Nick Folk, whom they signed last year in place of an injured Stephen Gostkowski. And the team will now roll with Folk with the regular season set to kick off next week.
With no preseason games to show his abilities in a game setting, Rohrwasser struggled to impress on the practice field.
Belichick was asked about the condensed camp and how that impacted the coaching staff’s ability to properly gauge Rohrwasser.
“This is not an uncommon situation for rookies,” Belichick said on Aug. 28. “We can both remember countless examples of guys that come to training camp as rookies and have an injury and they’re not able to play in preseason or they’re only able to play in the last preseason game or something like that. In those situations, you have to make a decision, just like we will this year. We’ll have to make a decision. This year, some of the personnel rules are a little bit different, so we’ll take those into consideration. But, ultimately, we’ll have to make decisions and do what we feel like is best for the football team. So, that’s what we’ll do.”
Rohrwasser was not one of the kickers who was expected to get drafted back in April. In fact, CBS Sports had Rohrwasser ranked as the eighth-best kicker available in the draft.
So when Belichick picked him, it was considered a classic case of Belichick going off the board and eschewing popular opinion. In some cases, that’s worked out magnificently. In this case, it will go down as a definitive miss.