Dan Carpenter had a down season in 2015 with the Buffalo Bills. In this third season with the Bills, Carpenter converted 85.2 percent of his field goal attempts (23-of-27) and 85 percent of his extra point attempts (34-of-40).
During his first two seasons with the Bills, Carpenter was clutch for the Bills. He converted 90.5 percent of his field goal attempts (67-of-74) and converted on 63-or-64 extra point attempts. Moving the extra point attempts back certainly affected Carpenter last year and that may have also affected his confidence on field goal attempts.
After a down season, the Bills aren't giving up on Carpenter. However, they also aren't giving the kicker a free pass. At the team's Monday Quarterback Club, Jim Monos, the Bills Director of Player Personnel, and Rob Hanrahan, the team's Director of Pro Personnel, discussed the kicker competition heading into 2016. According to Monos and Hanrahan, Carpenter will compete against Jordan Gay and Georgia Bulldogs UDFA Marshall Morgan.
Joe Buscaglia of WKBW-TV was in attendance and wrote the following on the competition:
It's quite an interesting spring and summer coming up for veteran kicker Dan Carpenter. Already having had his contract restructured to take away some guaranteed money in the event that he doesn't make the team, Hanrahan brought up both the undrafted rookie kicker Marshall Morgan and kickoff specialist Jordan Gay as the trio -- not duo -- that will all compete for the job. Gay has been with the Bills for most of the last two seasons, but will now get a shot to be "the guy" along with the other two, although they said he needs to improve his accuracy if he's going to win the job. A note on the undrafted Morgan, as well: Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman identified him as one of just a few college kickers this year that could actually make it in the NFL. However, Hanrahan said if the Bills chose the rookie kicker as the winner of the competition, that they'd have to "ride the rookie roller coaster" and stick with him through thick and thin, being fully aware that the veteran Carpenter would be scooped up quite quickly elsewhere. It sounded like they had faith in Carpenter to return to his old, reliable ways, but were at least intrigued by both the leg of Jordan Gay, and the potential of Marshall Morgan.
Gay would almost have to win the kicking job to keep a spot on Buffalo's roster going forward. He's served as the team's kickoff specialist in the past, but with touchbacks going to the 25-yard line teams aren't likely to kick as many touchbacks as in the past.
As for Morgan, it's interesting that Buffalo's special teams coordinator believes that Morgan is one of a few college kickers who could make it in the NFL. Riding "the rookie roller coaster" could lead to its fair share of frustration, but if Morgan shows that he's at least on par with Carpenter and Gay, Buffalo may opt to go with the young kicker.
Carpenter is still the favorite to win the kicker job, but he'll be a part of a legitimate competition this summer.