He's carved out a niche in Buffalo as the most accurate single-season kicker the organization has ever seen, but Dan Carpenter will soon be a free agent and there figures to be interest in the veteran kicker elsewhere in the league.
Although the 28-year-old said free agency talk is a distraction to his focus, he admitted Buffalo is a front runner when his contract expires at the end of the season.
"My wife and I really enjoy Buffalo," Carpenter said. "We like the people, we like the organization, everyone's been great, the fans are great. I'm open to every option."
Despite currently holding the mark for the most accurate kicking season in team annals (25-27 92.6%) Carpenter still has work to do this season with three games left to make his single-season best kicking percentage hold up. That's why free agency is something he can't worry about now.
"I'm just worried about the next three games and what I can do. You can really only take it one kick at a time," Carpenter said. "When you look ahead, that's when you're going to screw up and have something happen that you don't want to happen. All I can worry about is what I'm doing today and what I'm doing tomorrow."
The mental aspect of the game is important for Carpenter, so he said he avoids distractions. Punter Brian Moorman said that philosophy is similar to Rian Lindell's, who until Buffalo's game at Tampa Bay, held the record for Buffalo's most accurate kicking season.
"Those two guys just kind of let things slide off their back, they keep things in perspective. They don't let the mental side of the game become too much. I think that's half of kicking sometimes."
Moorman, who worked with Lindell for eight years, said the kickers utilize practice to its fullest.
"Work on the things they need to work on during practice," Moorman said. "They both took a lot of pride at trying to be perfect at their craft, and I think it's been a good fit for Dan this year."
Carpenter reached 92.59 percent accuracy after he nailed his last two field goals against Tampa Bay. That currently sits ahead of the single-season record set by Lindell in 2006, who was 92 percent accurate after missing only two kicks in that season (23-25).
"The key part of that phrase is it's right now. Been pretty lucky with the weather here this year. Obviously I know the weather in Buffalo can get nasty at times, so it's a right now thing," Carpenter said. "We've got three games left, so there's nothing more important than your next kick. You can celebrate your accomplishments at the end of the season."
The accomplishments thus far aren't without some regret. With his next field goal, he'll have kicked as many of those as extra point attempts (26). Carpenter said he'd prefer to see the balance tipped more in favor of extra points.
"I would much rather kick extra points because that means my team is putting seven points on the board instead of three," Carpenter said. "Obviously like I said I'm going to do anything I can to contribute to success."
Moorman said Carpenter's season is a credit to his consistency, especially since he only signed with the team five days before the first game.
"It just shows what kind of professional he is to come into a situation like this and continue to perform and not let the outside noise get to his head. To come to a place like Buffalo and do what he's done is a testament to his ability."
Naturally Carpenter downplayed the move from Miami like it barely affected him.
"It's a good thing I guess that all the field goal posts are the same, all the hashes and fields are the same everywhere," Carpenter said. "It's easier for a punter and a kicker to go somewhere else and play on short notice. You don't have to learn a scheme or an offense or anything like that to be able to play right away. "
Carpenter said that should allow him to have a long career, regardless of what jersey he puts on next year.