Carpenter's Ride Comes to an End

The end of Dan Carpenter's stint as Dolphins kicker came Wednesday in a move that could only be considered a surprise in terms of its timing. But Carpenter can leave Miami proud of a five-year stay during which he merely became the best kicker in franchise history.

The numbers serve as the proof:

• Carpenter made 81.9 of his field goal attempts during his five seasons in Miami, breaking the team mark of 80.1 that previously belonged to Olindo Mare (1997-06).

• Carpenter set a franchise record when he made a 60-yard field goal against Cleveland in a December game back in 2010.

• Carpenter has three of the seven longest field goals in franchise history, more than any other kicker (Pete Stoyanovich has two).

Here's the thing about Carpenter: The Dolphins look like they got a stud in the 2013 draft when they took Caleb Sturgis in the fifth round. His 58-yard kick in the preseason game at Jacksonville Friday night was just an example of the kind of leg power we saw in the spring and in training camp, and he really does look like he could become something special.

But the fact is Carpenter remains a very good kicker, and one shouldn't be surprised in the least to see him get picked up — even though he likely will have to take a pay cut from the $2.7 million he was scheduled to make in 2013.

There's this perception that Carpenter lost his mojo in 2012, and that happened because he missed a couple of potential game-winning field goal attempts (both from long range) against the Jets and then had another miss in the overtime loss at Arizona the following week.

But just don't forget that Carpenter made 16 of his last 17 field goal attempts in 2012 before ending the season on injured reserve with a leg injury. He also made field goals from 53 yards out in each of his last two games.

The combination of Carpenter's salary, which would have been the second-highest base figure among NFL kickers this season, plus Sturgis' draft status put Carpenter on the endangered list back in April.

Basically, Carpenter needed for Sturgis to badly struggle or suffer a long-term injury to have any chance to keep his job.

The Dolphins actually did a favor by making the move now because it will make it easier for Carpenter to find another job. Carpenter also will be able to spend more time at home in the next few days; his wife, Kaela, was due to deliver the couple's first child this week.

As it turned out, Carpenter's career with the Dolphins went full circle.

Back in 2008, he was the rookie (albeit undrafted) coming in to challenge the established veteran, in that case Jay Feely. This time, he was the veteran who was unseated.

Feely actually was coming off the most accurate season for a kicker in Dolphins history when Carpenter took his job, so there's that similarity as well.

Bottom line: Carpenter can leave the Dolphins with his head held high and proud of a job well done.

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