Of all the positions in football, kickers may get the worst rap of them all. Rarely do they get credit for team success, but they’ll always be blamed for a loss, whether it’s warranted or not.

But of any kicker in the league, almost none is more appreciated than the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jake Elliott. One of the four remaining members of the team’s Super Bowl LII win (others: Lane Johnson, Brandon Graham, Rick Lovato), he has come up clutch whenever he has been called upon.

Locked up to a four-year contract this offseason worth $24 million, it is clear that the organization values him. It’s important to recognize what he is: a star player.

Elliott’s Impact on the Eagles

For years, Elliott has been a staple of the Eagles. He’s definitely had some ups and downs, particularly regarding a poor 2020 season, but since then, he’s kicked it into hyperdrive. Actually, he’s been playing the best football of his career since that disastrous campaign.

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The seven-year veteran has hit his field goals at a 90.9 percent clip, while his extra points at a nearly-perfect 97.9 percent rate. To put that into context, Justin Tucker, a player who may go down as the best kicker ever, is 89.7 percent on field goals and 98.3 percent in extra points in that span. Making the Pro Bowl in every single season of that time frame, Elliott has a legitimate case of being the best kicker in the NFL of the last three seasons.

Having this type of confidence in a kicker can go a long way. It might not seem like it all the time, but having someone as automatic as Elliott cannot be understated.

Sometimes, the difference between an Elliott and your standard kicker is making the playoffs versus missing them or having good seeding versus bad seeding in them. Look no further than the Eagles’ clash with the Buffalo Bills last season.

In the dying moments of the fourth quarter (in the rain, mind you), Philadelphia got Elliott in field goal range down by three points. Actually, it was more like Hail Mary range. With a 59-yard kick in some of the worst conditions imaginable, one would imagine that the Eagles had essentially lost the game and would fall to 9-2. Instead, he nailed it and sent the game to overtime, a contest that the Birds ended up winning.

If not for the Eagles’ late-season collapse that was completely out of his control, that game could have meant much more. It could have been the difference between having the first seed and the NFC and not, and, of course, that comes with a first-round bye week. For $6 million per season, that seems like a steal.

Super Bowls & Kicking Are Correlated

Yes, kickers are important in winning championships. Ironically, they are among the few positions that have had to be good to win a Super Bowl. Some champions have good running backs, others don’t. Some have great wide receivers, and some don’t. But almost all of them have good kickers.

Look no further than the two-time reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs. Harrison Butker hasn’t ever been a Pro Bowl kicker, but his 2o19 and 2023 seasons were worthy of it, hitting 93.5 percent of both field goals and extra points, respectively. Of course, the Chiefs won championships in those seasons. He did have a down 2022 campaign, but he made up for it in the postseason, missing just one kick in total along the way.

In 2020, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl with Ryan Succop — he was mostly automatic, hitting both his field goals and extra points at above a 90 percent clip. His career was starting to fall off a bit, but he rejuvenated it with Tampa Bay. Success is more valuable than the name.

Getting into some historical examples, it’s no surprise that Stephen Gostkowski and Adam Vinatieri have won a lot. The two have seven combined championships, with the latter serving as the hero in three Super Bowls that the New England Patriots won by just three points each time from 2002 through 2005.

A kicker might not be as important as a franchise quarterback, but more often than not, a champion will have a reliable kicker. For some teams, it has been the difference between potentially or actually going all the way and falling just short. Elliott deserves constant admiration.

Kicking is a hard job in the NFL. It always has been one of the highest-pressure yet lowest-rewarding positions in the league. In a flash, a kicker can lose his job.

But Elliott is not just an average kicker. He has been building a legacy that is only rivaled by fellow Eagle David Akers in Philadelphia. If he is at it for long enough, he might just surpass his accomplishments.

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