FOXBORO – The New England Patriots shed ties with another familiar face, releasing kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
Franchise quarterback Tom Brady, who helped the team win six Super Bowl titles, announced last week he was leaving the franchise, and he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Gostkowski, 36, had a role in three of those championships and is franchise’s all-time leading scorer (1,775 points). He was entering the final season of his two-year, $8.5 million contract after finishing 2019 on injured reserve with an ailing left hip.
He made 7 of 8 field-goal attempts and just 11 of 15 extra-point tries in his 14th season in New England in 2019, appearing in only the first four games.
Gostkowski was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft as a replacement for Adam Vinatieri, who had left for the Indianapolis Colts.
Gostkowski has made 374 of 428 field-goal attempts (franchise-best 87.4 percent) in his career, including 25 of 35 from 50-plus yards. He is a four-time Pro Bowl selection (2008, 2013-15) and was chosen first-team All-Pro in 2008 and 2015.
With the departure of Brady, who arrived in 2000, and Gostkowski, who arrived in 2006, the longest-tenured New England player is Matthew Slater. The special teams ace, who arrived in 2008, agreed to a two-year extension on Friday.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick issued a statement addressing Gostkowski’s departure:
“I have had the privilege of coaching some of the best specialists in the NFL and Stephen Gostkowski is one of them. Stephen had many highlights over his 14 years as a Patriot and one of the most impressive was the way it began, when he succeeded the most accomplished kicker in NFL history. For some, this may have been too difficult a challenge.
But from his rookie year, Stephen exuded a maturity and confidence that demonstrated he was up to the task. He made several crucial kicks his rookie year and established a top level of performance and consistency for years and years to come. Stephen is a great teammate who made outstanding contributions over a decade of championship football.”