Former CFLer Sergio Castillo earns New York Jets kicker job

Photo courtesy: New York Jets

Amid a miserable season in New York for the Jets, Sergio Castillo has emerged as a bonafide kicker.

The 30-year-old former CFLer signed a practice squad contract on Wednesday, October 14 after working out in the Big Apple. A week and a half later, Castillo was activated for his NFL debut with Sam Ficken sidelined by a hamstring injury.

In Week 7, Castillo made his only three-point try from 29 yards in an 18-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills. During Week 8, Castillo was put to the test in Kansas City. He split the uprights from 39, 48, and 55 yards. In prime time on Monday Night Football in Week 9, Castillo hit from 35 and 50 yards.

Castillo has made six field goals for the Jets, two from 50 or more yards — including a 55-yarder — and converted all four of his extra point attempts. The only reason Castillo doesn’t have a shot at an NFL record is because one of his field goals was blocked.

The league mark for consecutive field goals to begin an NFL career is 17, set by veteran Kai Forbath in 2012. If not for a technicality, Castillo could have been eligible for resetting the bar by booting balls over it.

Photo courtesy: New York Jets

Officially or unofficially, Castillo’s consistent start created an unexpected Jets’ kicker competition. Ficken made 9-of-10 kicks in the first six games of New York’s season, although seven of those attempts were from under 39 yards. Following three weeks off, Ficken returned in Week 11 only to miss two of his three extra point attempts.

That led to the Jets placing Ficken on injured reserve, which puts Castillo back on the active roster and could lead to him being the kicker for the rest of New York’s schedule. No draft capital and lack of financial investment in Ficken opens future possibilities.

Fortunately for Castillo, Ficken doesn’t have any guaranteed money in his contract with the Jets and wasn’t brought into the league by the franchise. Ficken is earning a base salary of $675,000 while Castillo is being paid on a deal worth a pro-rated $610,000.

The Jets are the lone winless team in the NFL at 0-10 and Castillo has been one of the few positives in an already largely forgettable 2020 season for gang green.

New York enters Sunday’s game 6.5-point underdogs against Miami. Despite Castillo’s best efforts, it looks like the losing streak might continue as the Jets could join the Lions (2008) and Browns (2017) as the only teams to go 0-16 in NFL history.

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