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Cardinals’ Steve Keim: Zane Gonzalez has to make that kick vs. Patriots

(AP Photo/Gary Landers)

The Arizona Cardinals locked in kicker Zane Gonzalez on a hefty one-year deal last offseason.

The then-restricted free agent inked a contract that netted him just over $3.2 million on his second-round qualifying offer in 2020. He’s the fourth-highest paid kicker in the NFL and sits ahead of notable players such as New Orleans’ Wil Lutz and Detroit’s Matt Prater, according to Spotrac.

The price tag, however, has outkicked Gonzalez’s play in 2020.

There have been highs, like his game-winner over the Seattle Seahawks and a new career mark of 56 yards, but there’s also been quite a bit of lows for the kicker.

The Arizona State alum has missed three game-deciding kicks over the last five games, his most recent coming against the New England Patriots.

With 1:47 minutes left to play, Gonzalez couldn’t connect from 45 yards out, handing the Patriots the ball with time still left on the clock. New England took advantage of a late-hit penalty and a big run from quarterback Cam Newton before sealing the deal with a game-winning kick from former Arizona Wildcat Nick Folk.

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim joined Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Friday and was straight up about where his confidence stands in Gonzalez.

“My trust level is Zane’s got to get back out there and make that kick,” Keim said. “Bottom line is he gets paid to kick the football and he’s got to make that kick.

“Zane’s got a lot of talent, sometimes this happens with kickers, it’s not an excuse. We have expectations for Zane and feel like he’s going to get back out there and bang it through on the next one.”

Gonzalez has been plagued with misses in the 40 to 49-yard range this season. Of his 12 attempts, he’s hit eight of them (66.7%). Three of those kicks have been game-changing, however, as all of his crucial misses have come from 41 to 49 yards out.

Gonzalez has just one miss from at least 50 yards (2-for-3) and has converted all six of his field goal tries inside 40 yards.

It’s safe to say the magnifying glass will be on Gonzalez as the Cardinals navigate the rest of the regular season with playoff hopes still intact.

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