Former CFL kicker Sergio Castillo to make NFL debut with New York Jets

Photo courtesy: New York Jets

The New York Jets have activated former CFL kicker Sergio Castillo, per NFL sources.

Sam Ficken has handled the kicking duties since the opening week of the 2020 NFL season for gang green, however a groin injury has sidelined him for the Jets Week 7 match-up with the Buffalo Bills. Castillo has been elevated from the practice squad to the 53-man active roster for the game on Sunday — it’s his NFL debut.

“Just for me, it’s watching a guy kick in practice is one thing, it’s always what’s going to happen on game day,” head coach Adam Gase said during his videoconference on Friday.

“The good thing is, I do trust [special teams coach] Brant [Boyer], [Jeff Hammerschimdt] in their evaluation. If they bring a guy in here, I’m always going to trust those guys that that guy can do the job the way we need him.”

Ficken has made nine of his 10 field goal attempts through six games this season, including a career-long 54-yarder against Denver in Week 4. He’s played in 25 games while making 31-of-43 three-point attempts (72 percent) during his NFL career.

The 29-year-old Castillo decided to opt out of his Canadian Football League contract in August after the three-down season was cancelled. His CFL pact would have expired in February 2021 making him a free agent north of the border. He wanted to be free if NFL teams came calling and the Jets did.

The proud Mexican-American enjoyed a career year upon his return to the Leos in 2019, making good on 41-of-45 field goal attempts and hit 30-of-33 convert attempts, a success rate of over 90 percent in both categories. For his efforts, he earned a West Division All-Star selection as a kicker.

The West Texas A&M University graduate also had 14 punts for 73 yards and a net average of 42.6 yards before Josh Bartel took over those duties in Week 5 of the season.

Prior to signing with the Lions in 2019 training camp, Castillo suited up in 20 games over three seasons (2015-2017) split between Winnipeg, Ottawa and Hamilton where he made 39-of-47 field goal attempts and missed only two of his 27 attempts on converts.

Castillo signed with the Alliance of American Football during the 2019 off-season and the second iteration of the XFL in 2020. Castillo re-upped with the B.C. Lions in April for a season that didn’t occur.

The native of La Joya, Texas began 2020 with the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks where he played five games and made five field goals, helping the squad to an undefeated record before play was suspended. That’s the last time Castillo kicked in a pro environment.

The Jets (0-6) wanted to have an emergency option available in-house to be prepared for an unexpected situation and it’s provided the chance for Castillo to kick in an NFL game.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.