from lenny p on espn
â€¢ During his 16 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, kicking coach Steve Hoffman was charged by owner Jerry Jones with finding affordable kickers, guys the team could sign, usually off the street, and who would come up big while being paid very little. And Hoffman performed his task quite admirably. He unearthed an impressive litany of unknown placement specialists -- Ken Willis, Lin Elliot, Chris Boniol, Richie Cunningham, Tim Seder and Billy Cundiff -- all of whom led the Cowboys in field goals at least once in their careers and all of whom did so while playing for the minimum salary.
Now it appears the Atlanta Falcons are asking Hoffman, hired this offseason as the assistant to standout special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, to work his magic for them. The Falcons currently have three kickers -- E.J. Cochrane, Zac Derr and Ryan Rossner -- on the roster. And what do the three have in common? All are minimum-salary guys who have never attempted a field goal in an NFL game. For all anyone knows right now, the best kicker on the Atlanta roster might be Michael Koenen, the team's strong-legged punter/kickoff specialist, who converted one of his two field goal attempts during his 2005 rookie campaign. The one conversion, it should be noted, was for 58 yards, the longest field goal in the league last season.
Atlanta's kicker from a year ago, 12-year veteran Todd Peterson, is an unrestricted free agent and Falcons officials have made only luke-warm overtures toward re-signing him. The Falcons have hinted to Peterson, whose 92.0 percent conversion rate last season (23 for 25) was the fourth-best in the league, that he could return for the minimum base salary, but only as part of the open competition for the No. 1 job. There is a sense that the Falcons, known for overspending in some areas, prefer to go cheap at the kicker spot, and to develop a younger player at the position. Apparently, the team is convinced that Hoffman, whose bargain basement approach in Dallas produced terrific return on investment, will either find or develop a solid field goal specialist. It's tough to argue with Hoffman's track record.