It was hard to believe Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri was still working in the snow on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, considering it’s been 16 years since his game-tying Snow Bowl field goal against the Oakland Raiders in the 2001 divisional playoffs, and he was a 29-year-old veteran then.
A few weeks before his 45th birthday on Dec. 28, Vinatieri remained one of the best kickers in football entering Sunday’s game, having made 22-of-23 field goal attempts (94.7 percent) through the first 13 weeks of the 2017 season, and he was still being paid handsomely for it. In fact, he was in line for a hefty raise from his $2.75 million base salary if he continued to kick at a 90 percent clip for the season.
Then came the snow in Buffalo, which made for a fun game between two AFC doormats, but was hell on Vinatieri, and not just because the three-time Pro Bowler missed two field goals on the afternoon.
Kicking in a blizzard could cost Adam Vinatieri a $500,000 incentive. He needs to hit at least 90% of his field goals this season to get it. He was at 95.7% before the Buffalo game. He's now at 88%.
— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) December 11, 2017
That’s right. According to former NFL agent turned salary cap guru Joel Corry, Vinatieri’s errant field goals, which lowered his success rate on the season to 88 percent (22-of-25), could result in $500,000 fewer dollars on his bonus check this Christmas. He now needs to make his next five attempts over the final three games in order to get his average back up to 90 percent and be in line for the bonus.
— Nick Filipowski (@NEWS4_NICK) December 10, 2017
Vinatieri did make a wild extra-point to send Sunday’s game to overtime, but Indianapolis ultimately fell to the Bills, 13-7. He now must rely on Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett to get him into make-able field goal position a handful of times against the Miami Dolphins (twice) and New England Patriots.
Vinatieri found himself in a similar situation last season, when he entered Week 17 having made 26-of-29 attempts (89.7 percent) and needing one more to reach 90 percent and earn his $500,000 bonus. “I’m at 89-and-change,” Vinatieri acknowledged at the time. “But it’s not 90. I need another.”
Unfortunately, he missed a 48-yard field goal on his first attempt against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a season-ending win, and while he made a 45-yarder on the next drive, he finished 2016 at 87.1 percent.
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