The Seattle Seahawks’ “move” to improve the kicking position last year was not much of a move at all. They signed Blair Walsh to a one-year deal on February 9, signaling the end for Steven Hauschka more than a month before Hauschka was set to become a free agent.
The deal didn’t “backfire” though, it fired in the direction that many expected it to fire: Walsh is bad, Hauschka was good. Let’s hope that Jason Myers is not a sign that the Seahawks learned nothing from that lesson.
Seattle signed Myers on January 3, a couple months after he was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Myers went 11-of-15 on field goals, missing all three attempts from 50 yards and beyond, plus two missed extra points. He had the lowest FG% of his career, but he’s been worse in some areas, including going just 32-of-39 on extra points in 2015. He does have a leg, making 10 field goals from 50+ in his first two seasons prior to 2017, but he also missed six such kicks in that period of time.
If Jason Myers (whose name already invokes fear based on that fact that it’s two of the top three horror movie villain names of all-time) is the only solution to their kicking woes in 2018, maybe that ends up working out — most “good” kickers have been “bad” kickers before, cut by other teams at one point or another — but there’s a solid chance that it won’t and the Seahawks search can’t end there. What other kickers could become available?
Cap Casualty Candidates
There aren’t many of these, as only 10 kickers are currently slated to make more than the $790,000 that Myers is set to make in 2018; in fact, the drop-off goes from Robbie Gould at $2.25 million to Myers. That’s how much of a line in the sand there is between the top 10 and everyone else right now. But there are a couple.
It’s not likely that Crosby gets cut but I wonder if they’ll try to restructure. He didn’t get many opportunities with Brett Hundley at QB, attempting a career-low 19 field goals, and going just 1-of-3 from 50+. Crosby is just 2-of-5 from 50+ in the last two seasons. The bigger issue is that he’s the NFL’s highest-paid kicker, set to make $5.25 million in 2018. That makes Crosby the 11th-highest paid player on the roster next season (right now) and he’d likely only move up the list when they make decisions on Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Clay Matthews.
Same deal. Bailey is a historically-good kicker for Dallas, but his 2017 was marred by injury and he went just 15-of-20, missing four games. Do they feel totally comfortable with his $4.2 million cap hit next season? Probably, but just worth pointing out.
He’s only 26, but McManus is more likely to get cut than the first two names mentioned. He was just 24-of-32 for Denver last season, a career-low 75% field goal percentage. Think he was helped a lot by Mile High? He was only 13-of-20 at home, missing at least one kick in six of eight home games. But when the Broncos won the Super Bowl in 2015, McManus was 10-of-10 on field goals. Is that goodwill enough to pay his $3.5 million salary without concerns? It’s probably not an issue for the front office to keep McManus and give him another shot, but worth noting that as one of the high-paid kickers he was very disappointing, especially in the stadium where he’s supposed to be dominant.
The Seahawks may not be able to afford a high-profile free agent kicker at all, but here are a few that may remain available in March.
He was 29-of-30 last season, doing better on field goals than he did on extra points (34-of-37). This may get him a huge offer from Carolina or somewhere else, but as a reminder of kicker volatility: Gano was just 30-of-38 in 2016, a FG% of just 78.9.
After missing the entire season, Janikowski hits free agency at age 40, 18 years after Oakland took him 17th overall. He’s been a solid kicker for most of the last decade and will get an opportunity somewhere if he wants one, but Seattle (or any team) really can’t have any idea who or what they’ll be getting. What will it cost to acquire such a wild card veteran?
The only reason the 45-year-old would leave Indy is if he didn’t like Chris Ballard or new head coach Frank Reich. But he’s spent most of his career there after spending 10 years in New England. He has nothing to play for at this point but records and Super Bowls. He won’t win a Super Bowl in Indianapolis probably, so maybe that also pushes him to a new city that’s expected to contend. But he may just be content with simply staying where he’s at, in terms of a living situation and being a person in his mid-40s.
Also a veteran not likely to go anywhere.
He led the NFL with 42 attempts, making 35 of them. Consider that two years ago, he went just 14-of-16 for Tennessee over the course of a full season. I don’t see him leaving unless the Titans just don’t want to pay him. But he was making $2.4 million last season, so the “raise” to say, $4 million, won’t be as drastic as it would be if Succop had been on a rookie deal.
Sturgis represents perhaps the “most available” kicker there will be, as the Eagles have found a kicker-of-the-future in Jake Elliott, Sturgis’ replacement after his Week 1 injury. Sturgis had gone 35-of-41 in 2016 though, so he’ll probably be the most sought after kicker on the market. He recovered from a torn flexor midseason but Philly chose to stick with Elliott, so the injury is also way behind him. He’s 28 and will probably look for $2.5-$4.5 million per season. He’s the best option available maybe, which could push him out of Seattle’s desired price range.
He was 32-of-38, also exceptionally good, but Minnesota isn’t going to let him go after seeing what happened with both having Blair Walsh and how good it was to not have Blair Walsh.
Dustin Hopkins, Washington
Hopkins could join Sturgis on the market, also because of an injury, after missing half the season with a bum hip. He had an NFL-high 42 attempts in 2016 though and has had a solid 2.5-season career.
Tampa’s recent history with kickers is sadly hilarious. They had Murray in 2014 (when they were 2-14) then went to Connor Barth and Kyle Brindza, then drafted Roberto Aguayo in the second round, then cut Aguayo a year later, then brought back Murray, plus some Nick Folk. Folk went 6-of-11 and then Murray was brought in to go 19-of-23. Those woes may lead them to overpay for Murray to assure that they are solidified at that position (for now) or they could lose him because that’s what is on game for the Bucs to do. But Murray was also just 2-of-5 from beyond 50. His stats are skewed a bit by going 13-of-13 inside 40.
Folk is a veteran option, but not a very reassuring one.
He was a Pro Bowl kicker for the Eagles in 2014, missed most of 2015, with the Browns in 2016, then 21-of-23 for Miami last season. He may not have the strongest leg but he’s fairly reliable on the shorter kicks; however he is just 18-of-27 in his career from 40-49 yards.
Injuries pushed him out of KC after they landed Harrison Butker, then the Bears picked him up, only to place him on IR after two games. Santos is just 26 and has some solid career moments however, winning a Player of the Month award in November, 2016. Chicago may push to keep him, given their own issues at the position.