Saturday could make (or break) Cade York’s future with the Browns

York, a former fourth-round draft selection by Cleveland, has been showing signs of inaccuracy again during the preseason.
york cade browns commanders
CLEVELAND, OH – AUGUST 11: Cleveland Browns place kicker Cade York (3) misses wide-right on a 46-yard field goal during the third quarter of the National Football League preseason game between the Washington Commanders and Cleveland Browns on August 11, 2023, at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

For the Cleveland Browns, there isn’t a ton for fans to glean during preseason play or training camp availability. Sure, standouts like Mohamoud Diabate are making a case to join the 53-man roster, but that’s just an individual narrative. In the grand scheme of everything, none of the games count and Cleveland is trying to get their players in shape and healthy in time for when they open the regular season at home against the Cincinnati Bengals.

So, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean Deshaun Watson is a top-five quarterback, nor is Elijah Moore the missing link at receiver. It will take time for things to play out and the level of intensity needs to match the proper level of vibrancy to paint the whole picture. But, again, there are individual stories worth watching that can provide positive insight into the team’s future, like Diabate or Ronnie Hickman Jr. doing enough to make the final roster. Neither will be star-level talent right out of the gates for Cleveland, but, again, they’ve individually done enough to make the final roster and earn playing time.

Unfortunately for some, these individual narratives during the preseason are a double-edged sword. On the other side of the tracks, there’s former Browns fourth-round draft pick Cade York, whose inaccuracy this preseason has been a severe issue for Cleveland once again. In his rookie season, York made the first eight field goal tries but went just 16-of-24 the rest of the way. York also missed two PAT kicks early but none over the season’s final stretch. In this preseason, York missed from 48 yards in the Hall of Fame Game against the New York Jets, from 46 versus the Washington Commanders and twice against the Philadelphia Eagles wide right from 47 yards, which was recalled due to penalty, and wide left from 41 yards away.

“Kickers want to make every kick,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said days after York’s latest misses. “We want Cade to make every kick. You’ve just got to continue to work through it. It’s really as simple as that. The kid works very hard. He’ll continue to do that.”

When you look at the idea of York, you understand why the Browns are sticking by him and love his fit with the team. York, the highest-drafted kicker in NFL history since 2016, has plenty of strength and accuracy to make routine kicks and has showcased an ability to hit from far away when there’s zero pressure in practice. What happens during practice seems to translate to what Stefanski and the Browns say since there appears to be no pressure or concern. But a kicker that’s unable to execute consistently can make or break a season and considering there’s so much at stake for Cleveland, they cannot afford to allow York to figure things out.

york browns jets hall of fame game
CANTON, OH – AUGUST 03: Cleveland Browns kicker Cade York (3) misses on a 49-yard field goal during the first quarter of the National Football League Hall of Fame preseason game between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns on August 3, 2023, at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In games where York missed an extra point attempt or a field goal last season, the Browns were 2-4. Those losses include a game where York missed an extra point attempt against the Jets and the Browns lost 21-20. Or a time when he missed both field goal attempts against the Los Angeles Chargers and Cleveland lost 30-28. Or a time when York missed one of his three field goal attempts against the Baltimore Ravens and the Browns ended up losing 23-20.

Sure, York isn’t the lone reason why Cleveland lost three close games to conference opponents since football is a team sport. But, if York was even slightly more accurate, then perhaps the Browns finished last season with nine or ten wins and a playoff appearance. That’s why despite hiring a new special teams coordinator in Bubba Ventrone, York saying all the right things about correcting his inaccuracy and Stefanski going out of his way to stick up for him, Cleveland has to be concerned.

This season is a make-or-break year for the Browns, with plenty to worry about all over the field. Consistency is essential when it comes to place kicker, one of the more replaceable positions in all of sports. York needs to be more consistent as a kicking option for Cleveland, and the team’s losing record could worsen if he continues to miss in high-pressure moments. Considering that Stefanski said the Browns don’t plan on bringing in another kicker to consider their options, York is only competing with himself right now. And while the bandwagon isn’t on fire, his volatility could be the spark that burns down everything if he doesn’t balance it out.

There’s a chance for York to smooth things over for a bit longer on Saturday when the Browns face the Kansas City Chiefs in their preseason finale. It also could be a chance to heighten anxiety about York’s legitimacy as Cleveland’s placekicker and cast even more doubt on Stefanski’s public support of his player. York’s long-term future with Cleveland hinges on his performance under pressure, especially when the starting offense is expected to play in the finale. Maybe he’ll finally respond to the heat of the moment and prove that the Browns weren’t foolish in spending a draft pick on him. Either way, it’ll keep him from posting on Instagram for the second week at halftime.

Evan Dammarell is an award-winning sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at He can also be found three to five times weekly on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.

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