Chargers' Novak finally has big contract, job security
It’s been nine years since Nick Novak made his NFL debut.
Since then, he’s played for four different teams in the NFL. He’s played for the UFL. He's been a starter; he's been a backup.
He’s been out of a job.
Not anymore, though. After two strong seasons in place of the often injured Nate Kaeding, Novak has finally found a permanent home in California. The San Diego Chargers signed Novak to a four-year contract this offseason worth $6.6 million, including a $1.5 million signing bonus.
The 2013 season marks the first year in Novak’s career in which he's not competing for a job.
"Going into training camp and being the only guy, it's great," Novak said. "I've always been the type to, no matter what, never get comfortable whether I'm the guy or not. Whether I'm the backup, the underdog, whatever you want to call it, I've always tried to keep that edge and pretend there is somebody there nipping at my heels. … It's taken nine years, so I have a great appreciation for what it takes to be a part of a NFL team and to be one of the 32, it's very gratifying."
Last season, the Chargers released Novak after training camp but San Diego re-signed him after Kaeding injured his groin a few weeks later in practice. Novak responded with 18 field goals in 20 tries. His 90% conversion rate was the eighth-highest in the NFL last season and third-highest in team history. Five Charger kickers have had 100% campaigns, but none hit more than seven field goals in a season.
"The past three and a half years, I've kind of been on an ascending line from the Chargers to the UFL, back to New York, back to the Chargers the last two years so every year has been a positive one to help me grow and get better,” Novak said.
Novak, however, isn't complacent with his new contract or job security. After spending the better portion of a recent Saturday afternoon watching him coach at his kicking camp, his passion for the game is as strong as it’s ever been.
“I have a lot of personal and team goals,” Novak, 31, said. “A lot of personal goals I haven't accomplished yet so I look forward to another season and I'm looking forward to winning and getting to the playoffs and winning that championship. I think that's what most important to San Diego.”