Detroit Lions signing local, undrafted kicker

The Detroit Lions finally have some kicker competition, reportedly agreeing to terms with undrafted Michigan kicker James Turner.

James Turner, Michigan, Kicker

According to Michigan Wolverines reporter Anthony Broome, the Detroit Lions are signing Michigan kicker James Turner as an undrafted free agent.

Over the weekend, the 2024 NFL Draft saw three kickers drafted—Alabama’s Will Reichard (Vikings), Stanford’s Joshua Karty (Rams), and Arkansas’ Cam Little (Jaguars)—all in the sixth round. The Lions opted to pass on the opportunity to add kicker competition in the draft, but identified Turner in the undrafted free agent market.

Turner has four years of college experience as a kicker. For the first three years at the college ranks, he was with Louisville. There he had two successful seasons sandwiching a rough one. Take a look:

  • 2020: 40-of-40 on extra points (100%), 13-of-15 on field goals (86.7%), Long: 50
  • 2021: 46-of-48 on extra points (95.8), 14-of-22 on field goals (63.6%), Long: 46
  • 2022: 38-of-39 on extra points (97.4), 20-of-22 on field goals (90.9%), Long: 48

In that 2022 season, Turner set the Louisville program record for field goal percentage, while tying for most field goals made in a season.

In 2023, Turner entered the transfer portal and helped the Wolverines win a national championship. He converted 65-of-66 extra points, along with 18-of-21 (85.7%) on field goals, with a long of 50 yards—which he accomplished on three different occasions. In the national title game, Turner was a perfect 6-for-6 on kicks (two field goals, four extra points).

In short, Turner has been a reliable kicker from short and moderate distances, but with a college long of just 50 yards, he may not solve the Lions’ current issue of having no reliable long-distance kicker.

For James Turner, kicking for Michigan is a homecoming

Turner will come in and compete with incumbent kicker Michael Badgley. Last year, Badgley initially lost out on the kicker competition before returning to the practice squad, winning the job back, and going 4-of-4 in the regular season and 3-for-3 on field goals in the postseason.

In addition to adding Turner, the Lions have also shown interest in Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates, who has caught the attention of NFL teams after starting the season perfect on field goals, including a pair of makes from 60+ yards. Bates cannot sign with a team until the UFL season is over in June.

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