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How reliable is kicker Jason Sanders?

After a great rookie season, Sanders was inconsistent for the Dolphins in 2019, making just 23 of 30 attempts.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As a seventh-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of New Mexico, Jason Sanders was a consistent option for the Dolphins during the 2018 season for an offense that was quite the opposite. With the 26th ranked offense in the NFL led by a back-and-forth of Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler, Miami struggled. But Sanders was money, making 90 percent of his field goals along with 35 of 36 successful PATs.

But in 2019, Sanders took a step back. His biggest play of the season wasn’t a kick, but the pass he caught from Matt Haack for a touchdown in the win over the Eagles. Nevertheless, the kicker who missed just two kicks in 2018 missed seven this past season, including nearly half his kicks between 40 and 49 yards (he went 5 of 9 on those).

It isn’t easy to understand what could have changed from Sanders to experience that drop-off. The Dolphins did rely on him more in 2019, where he had 30 attempts as opposed to just 20 his rookie season. He also had 5 of those this past season were from 50+ yards, whereas in 2018, he had only one. So that likely was a factor.

It was rumored that the Dolphins might turn in a different direction this offseason. In this year’s draft, Pro Football Talk reported that Miami was welcoming the possibility of drafting competition for Sanders in the form of Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship and Utah State’s Dominic Eberle. But when April 23 rolled around, Miami remained more focused on other positional needs.

Rightfully so. This was too important a draft for Miami to be worrying about Sanders’ replacement. Addressing the offensive and defensive lines and secondary were concerns that were far more urgent.

So Sanders will get his opportunity to get back on track with Miami this season. How it plays out will be a massive telltale for what his future holds within the organization. Another rough year and the Dolphins will likely be forced to look elsewhere.