Browns coach Kevin Stefanski isn’t guaranteeing Cade York’s roster spot

Aug. 27—Cade York might have used his last mulligan when his attempt to kick a game-winning against the Chiefs on Aug. 26 was blocked. It was his fifth botched field goal of the preseason and the second time he failed with the game on the line.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski was asked directly during a Zoom call Aug. 27 whether he expects York to be the Browns’ kicker when the regular season begins on Sept. 10 in a game with division rival Cincinnati at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Stefanski smiled briefly before answering.

“I think all those types of things, we always keep those things internal as we get through this week,” Stefanski said. “But I’ll reiterate. I think Cade is very, very talented.”

York, a 2022 fourth-round draft pick from LSU, had a preseason to forget. He was automatic in practice, but game situations were different.

Kevin Stefanski answers more questions about kicker Cade York missing another field goal with the game on the line during a Zoom call Sunday afternoon. #Browns

— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) August 27, 2023

York missed a 49-yard field goal in the Hall of Fame game and a 46-yard try Aug. 11 in the third quarter of a 17-15 loss to the Commanders. He hit on three field-goal attempts against the Eagles, but with the score 18-18 and two minutes to play, he was wide right from 47 yards. A Philadelphia penalty gave him another chance, but he over-compensated and was wide left from 41 yards.

A missed extra point after the Browns first touchdown against Kansas City was erased by a running into the kicker penalty on the Chiefs. York then made three PATS and kicked a 40-yard field goal with 4:19 left to put the Browns on top, 32-30.

The Chiefs retook the lead on a 44-yard field goal by Harrison Butker with 1:48 left. York had the chance to win the game for the Browns and shut up the doubters, but instead the doubters got louder when his 43-yard attempt with 57 seconds left was blocked.

“Obviously didn’t hit it like we wanted to,” Stefanski said. “I know we want to be able to finish there as a team, so it was disappointing. But it doesn’t change our mentality that each one of our players is going to continue to work at this thing and get better.”

York is the only player that has had no competition since the offseason began in mid-April. He missed 25 percent of his field goal attempts (24 of 32) last year, so some sort of competition seemed and still seems necessary.

Stefanski was asked whether he owes it to the other players on the team to have competition for York. The problem is it might be too late. Rosters have to be at 53 by 4 p.m. Aug. 29. The Browns won’t want kickers taking up two roster spots.

“I think all roster decisions and those types of things are things that we talk about internally, really at every position,” Stefanski said. “So that’s where I’d leave it.

“Cade is very talented. We’ve seen it in practice. Definitely, I’ve seen it at times in games. He wants to come through for the team. I know he’s disappointed in that preseason, but (a) young player, going to continue to work. That’s really what it is.”

York was 4-for-4 on field goal tries in the opener last year. He famously nailed a 58-yarder on the final play to beat the Panthers, 26-24. That means he was 20 of 28 the rest of the way — a 71.4 success rate.

York was wide right from 54 yards with 16 seconds left in a 30-28 loss to the Chargers last year. A 60-yard try with 2:09 to play and the Ravens leading, 23-20, was blocked. York also missed a PAT that would have put the Browns ahead of the Jets, 31-17, with 1:55 left in the second game. The Browns lost, 31-30.

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