Almost 10 years ago, the Baltimore Ravens signed an undrafted free-agent kicker from Texas to compete with incumbent kicker Billy Cundiff. That kicker, Justin Tucker turned out to be one of the best.
Tucker is the NFL’s most accurate placekicker at 91.1%. He also holds the NFL record for the longest successful field goal at 66 yards.
The Ravens made Tucker the highest paid kicker in the NFL when he signed a four-year extension with the Ravens worth $24 million. Signing Tucker was something that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh knew was going to happen, but not simply because of his kicking prowess.
“I didn’t have any doubt he would be,” Harbaugh said when asked if he knew Tucker would be re-signed. “Justin is beyond what kind of a kicker he is and all of that. I would say the kind of leader he is, the guy to be around. Being out here with the mindset that he takes to it in terms of his work ethic, also his sense of humor, his understanding of the moment. [sic] Even in the meetings, he always has some kind of a comment. He laughs at my jokes, which I really appreciate.”
At 32-years-old, Tucker is a five-time first-team All Pro, five-time Pro Bowler and member of the 2010 All-Decade team.
The Ravens placed the franchise tag on Tucker in 2016. Tucker signed the franchise tender on March 4, 2016, which would pay him $4.5 million. He then signed a four-year, $16.8 million extension on July 15, 2016. On April 24, 2019, Tucker signed a four-year, $23.05 million contract extension with $12 million guaranteed, keeping him under contract through the 2023 season.
Four has proven to be the lucky number for Tucker.
“I feel beyond blessed,” Tucker said of the deal. “I’m fired up, I’m motivated – all the things that I was feeling before I signed, but maybe a little bit more after putting pen to paper. But no, I’m fired up, I’m blessed. I know that I get to come to work at an amazing place with amazing people. We get to continue working on building something great and working toward championships. Just to know that I will be in the plans for exactly that makes me feel very special.”
Tucker said the deal came together quickly, complimenting [vice president of football administration] Nick Matteo and [executive vice president & general manager] Eric DeCosta for how they handled the process. Being with the Ravens for what appears to be the rest of his career is music to Tucker’s ears. It also allows him to be a big part of future success for Baltimore.
“What was and continues to be most important to me is just being in the plans for building a championship and feeling valued as a part of that process,” Tucker explained. “This deal, for sure, checks all the boxes for me, and for all intents and purposes, this is the type of deal that will more than ensure that I will be a Raven for life. And for that alone, I couldn’t be happier.”
Neither could the Ravens.