ASHBURN — Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins entered the 2017 season with two personal goals in mind: don’t miss any field goal attempts under 50 yards and don’t miss any extra point attempts.
Hopkins failed to accomplish either, but that was the least of his problems. For half of the year, Hopkins was placed on injured reserve while he dealt with a right hip injury. He didn’t need surgery, but the injury and the recovery process was new to Hopkins. He missed a total of eight games.
Now as Hopkins heads into the offseason, he’ll also enter a new phase of his career: free agency.
“It’s exciting because there’s something of not knowing, ‘Whoa, who knows where we’ll be,’” Hopkins said. “My wife and I really like it here, so it would really be awesome (to re-sign with the Redskins.) But other places have great opportunities too, so I guess we’ll just have to see.”
Hopkins said until now, he hadn’t kept track of how kickers had done recently in free agency. According to Spotrac.com, the average salary for a kicker was $2.3 million this season. Hopkins made $690,000 in 2017.
Hopkins also said he’ll consult other kicking specialists around the league on how to handle the process. Hopkins added he doesn’t know if the Redskins will want him back, noting they hadn’t discussed an extension during the season.
Hopkins, though, gave the Redskins a stability at the position since joining the team in 2015. Before Hopkins, the Redskins cycled through 16 other kickers since 2000.
“You just don’t know where each party stands until talking starts getting serious,” Hopkins said. “I know they’ve got a lot on their plate right now.”
In 2017, Hopkins made 82.3 percent of his field goals, going 14-for-17. He almost went the entire season accomplishing his first goal of making all of his attempts within 50 yards, but missed a 47-yard field goal wide right in Week 17 against the New York Giants.
His lone miss on an extra point attempt came in Week 5 against the San Francisco 49ers. Coincidentally, that was the same game where Hopkins further injured his hip. Days after the game, Hopkins was placed on IR. Hopkins said he initially hurt his hip in Week 4.
While Hopkins was hurt, the Redskins signed Nick Rose to be their kicker. Rose, who hadn’t had much NFL experience, kept the Redskins’ kicking game afloat — making 10 of his 11 field goal attempts and 18-of-20 extra points.
Rose’s performance was solid enough to where Hopkins said it put him in a “weird dichotomy of wanting a guy to do well, but also wanting to keep your job for sure.” But when Hopkins was healthy enough to return, the Redskins activated him and waived Rose. Hopkins played in the final three games.
In his career, Hopkins has made 83.9 percent of his kicks. While he had a smaller sample size, Hopkins’ percentage in 2017 was actually an increase over a down 2016, in which he made just 81 percent of his attempts.
Despite his injury, Hopkins said he feels good health-wise.
“You think only playing half the year would make it feel shorter, but it’s funny because this season felt longer than any other one I’ve been apart of,” Hopkins said. “It seemed like two separate seasons almost.”