BOSTON (CBS) -- After releasing all-time franchise leading scorer Stephen Gostkowski this offseason, the New England Patriots are in need of a kicker. It just so happens that a young kicker named Vinatieri is available to any NFL team that wants him.
Might fate be sending a message to Bill Belichick?
Maybe, maybe not. But Chase Vinatieri -- the nephew of legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri -- is eligible to be drafted out of South Dakota State. Naturally, given Adam's place in franchise history and the Patriots' need for a kicker, it was only a matter of time before Chase fielded questions about a possible union with New England's football team.
ESPN.com's Mike Reiss spoke with Chase Vinatieri, who recounted his memories of watching his uncle win Super Bowls for the Patriots at the start of the millennium. Now, Chase hopes to start an NFL career of his own -- even if it doesn't officially begin until after the draft.
"From watching the draft the last few years, maybe one, two or three kickers get drafted, and so realistically, it's more likely I'll be an undrafted free agent," Vinatieri told Reiss. "I'm definitely OK if that's what it is. I'm just looking for a team to give me an opportunity."
While Chase Vinatieri has the last name to draw interest, he's unfortunately coming off a statistically troubling season, when he successfully kicked just 50 percent of his field goals. Vinatieri was 9-for-18 on field goals and 41-for-45 on PATs last year. Vinatieri entered the year with a collegiate career mark of 36-for-50 -- a 72 percent success rate -- on field goals. That included a 13-for-14 season in 2017. He had averaged 95 points per year through his first three collegiate seasons, before putting up 68 points last year.
As such, he's not considered to be among the Rodrigo Blankenships and Tyler Basses of the kicking prospect world. Nevertheless, Chase Vinatieri will no doubt be the easiest kicking name to remember over the course of the coming weeks.
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