The Arizona Cardinals plan to release kicker Zane Gonzalez today, according to NFL Reporter Mike Garafolo.
The #AZCardinals are releasing K Zane Gonzalez today, source says, though there's still a chance he could be back in Arizona. Long story short: He was slated to be a free agent anyway. It's a procedural move because they put him on IR.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 5, 2021
Gonzalez was slated to be an unrestricted free agent later this March but the Cardinals opted to speed up the process.
After making 31-of-35 (88.6%) of his field goals in 2019, Gonzalez was rewarded with a second-round restricted free agent tender. In a way, this was considered a prove-it deal to see if he could replicate his success.
Unfortunately, he could not.
Despite Kliff Kingsbury’s confidence in the kicker week after week, Gonzalez could not get things on track. He made only 16-of-22 (72.7%) field goal attempts this past season, dropping nearly 16 percent in field goal accuracy compared to his 2019 year. He missed critical field goals against the Dolphins, Patriots, and Rams that ended up being detrimental to the Cardinals season as they missed the playoffs.
Gonzalez was placed on injury reserve in Week 15 after suffering a back injury the week before.
The 25-year-old kicker out of Arizona State has one of the strongest legs in the NFL. However, the mental aspect of game waned on him in Arizona just like it did in his Cleveland days.
There is no doubt in my mind that NFL teams will have interest in the veteran kicker and there is a possibility the Cardinals bring him back.
For the benefit of both parties, it is best for the Cardinals to move on from Gonzalez and start fresh at the kicker position in the upcoming 2021 season.
Brett Maher was signed to a futures deal and will compete for the kicker job with expected competition to be added in free agency or the draft.