Bengals want Mike Nugent to finish strong

Earlier this offseason, the Cincinnati Bengals decided to put the franchise tag on kicker Mike Nugent instead of signing him to a long-term contract. Maybe the Bengals want to see Nugent put together a complete season before giving him a new deal.

In his two seasons in Cincinnati, Nugent has started strong before fading. In 2010, he hit 12 of his first 13 field goals before missing three of his final six that season (he suffered a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 14). Last season, Nugent missed one kick in his first 14 games (going 26 of 27) and then missed four in his final three games (hitting 7 of 11), which included a playoff loss at Houston.

"We’re really confident in Mike, and I think Mike has to finish the season just as well as he started the last two," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "That’ll really solidify him and his confidence level."

Nugent, 30, set Bengals single-season records for points (132) and field goals (33) last season. His base salary last year was $685,000.

He signed his $2.645 million franchise tender in April and has been working out with the team this offseason.

"Everyone is striving for the long-term deal. As long as you can be optimistic and that's still on the table, that's something to shoot for," Nugent said. "At the end of the day, it would be great to come to an agreement like that. When it's all said and done, I want to be positive about it. If you come in every day being negative, you're probably going to kick poorly."