The Detroit Lions struggled over the last two years to find a consistent kicker before settling on the steady Michael Badgley early last season.
Now, Badgley may face a battle if he wants to keep the job next year.
NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweeted on May 15 that the Lions were signing XFL standout kicker John Parker Romo. Citing Romo’s agent, Wilson noted that the Lions had hosted Romo for a tryout earlier in the month and he was impressed enough to earn a contract.
Nolan Bianchi of the Detroit News noted that the signing likely signals a position battle for Badgley.
“Can you smell what the Lions are cooking?” Bianchi wrote. “It’s a kicking competition, according to news Monday night that Detroit has signed XFL kicker John Parker Romo of the San Antonio Brahmas.”
Lions Land Top XFL Kicker
The 25-year-old Romo signed with the New Orleans Saints last year as an undrafted rookie free agent but was waived in August. He then joined the XFL’s Brahmas and became the league’s most accurate kicker, making 17 of 19 total kicks with a long 57. Romo’s 89.4% conversion rate was top in the league, and he was named to the All-XFL Team as the league’s top kicker.
Romo was something of a late bloomer as a kicker, noted Bianchi of the Detroit News. He spent the first three years of his college career at Central Arkansas and Tulsa before a transfer to Virginia Tech, where he mostly handled kickoff duties through his first two seasons. But Romo became the primary field goal kicker in his final season, going 18-for-22 and earning some buzz as an NFL prospect.
In an interview with The Gridiron Crew, Romo credited the extra season of eligibility granted during COVID with helping change the trajectory of his career.
“The additional year of eligibility was a blessing for me,” he said. “It allowed me to be the field goal and kickoff starter from the beginning of the season to the end. It was my only season to show my capabilities as the starting kicker. I didn’t have the start to the season that I had hoped for, but I am grateful for my coaches and teammates by continuing to believe in me and finishing the season as an All-ACC kicker.”
Michael Badgley Coming Off Strong Season for the Lions
Badgley, who spent the start of last season on the Lions practice squad before being signed to the active roster, had a strong season. He went 24-for-28 on field goal attempts, earning Special Teams Player of the Week after converting all four field goal attempts and four extra points in a Week 13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
At the time he was signed to the active roster in October, Badgley got a vote of confidence from special teams coordinator Dave Fipp.
“He did a good job in the game with the kicks and that’s been good and we obviously need to continue that trend going forward for sure,” Fipp said, via SB Nation’s Pride of Detroit. “I would say there’s a lot left, I mean listen, let’s not jump on the bandwagon too early one way or the other. We’ll just continue to keep working hard and trying to improve and see where it goes from there.”
The Lions announced on March 20 that they re-signed Badgley to a new contract.