Who Has The Edge in the Minnesota Vikings Kicker Competition?

Anyone who has followed the Minnesota Vikings for any length of time knows how difficult it is to be the purple kicker.

Frankly, there are some days when I wonder about curses. Many days, it certainly feels as though our Vikings have some sort of curse on them. I think back to Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans. Stephen Gostkowski had a career day against us, going 6/6. He only made eighteen field goals the entire season, meaning a full third came against Minnesota in Week 3. It feels like all six were beyond fifty yards, but the truth is that he merely hit three fifty+ yard field goals.

We lost that game by one point, and we missed the playoffs by one game. Alas, I digress; this article is supposed to cover Minnesota’s options at kicker.

Perhaps my momentary journey down Minnesota Memory Lane (which happens to haunted) can illustrate an important point: it has become commonplace for Vikings fans to see opposing kickers succeed while our kicker flounders.

Dan Bailey was a historically great kicker before coming to Minnesota. He had several years of elite play in Dallas, distinguishing himself as among the most accurate kickers to ever play in the NFL. Last season, Bailey was among the worst kickers in the league. He finished the year 15/22 on field goals and 37/43 on extra points.

Somewhat predictably, the Vikings decided to move on from Bailey during the offseason (after failing to restructure his deal). The Minnesota Vikings have publicly said that they will be having a kicker competition, and that currently means a showdown between veteran journeyman Greg Joseph and UDFA rookie Riley Patterson. Who has the upper hand?

Well, it’s tough to say. Forced to guess at this moment in time, I’d likely give the edge to the kid. Patterson has a big leg, and I’m (perhaps foolishly) hopeful that Ryan Ficken can really help to improve our special teams. There’s no debating that Patterson has ability. He got some hype before the draft as a kicker who might actually get chosen, but neither the Minnesota Vikings nor any other team used a pick on him. In any case, Patterson apparently always wanted to come to Minnesota.

Joseph has been part of the Titans, Browns, and Bucs in his three-year career. In 2018, Joseph made 17 of his 20 FG attempts for Cleveland for a very respectable 85%. In 2019, Joseph didn’t attempt any field goals for Tennessee, but he did convert on all nine of his extra points. Joseph was Tampa Bay’s emergency kicker throughout the 2020 season. It’s worth noting that some of Joseph’s salary was guaranteed by the Vikings. The willingness to toss in some guaranteed money suggests that other teams were also interested in Joseph, a reality that further suggests he has some ability.

So here’s where things stand: the Minnesota Vikings currently have two intriguing options at kicker, but there is no guarantee either will work out. The other side of that is that both could end up being excellent. No matter how the competition works out, expect the Vikings to prioritize keeping both players. The team will likely want one kicker on the practice squad as well as the active roster.

One other outside of the box idea to keep in mind: Minnesota may be interested in keeping two kickers on the active roster. The special teams were such a disaster last season that I fully expect Zimmer to do anything necessary to improve. Heck, they kept seven receivers on last season’s roster almost exclusively because of special teams, so there is some precedent for peculiar decisions. Having a kickoff specialist and a field goal specialist may not be the worst thing in the world. At this point, I’ll endorse pretty much anything that works.