Seems like just yesterday I was defending this signing.
Seattle has applied the franchise tag to franchise kicker Olindo Mare. He is one of the least appreciated players in pro football and perhaps one of the greatest kick off men in the history of the sport. So, in that sense, Mare is a smart signing. However, it's worth revisiting the list of candidates I compiled after Josh Brown signed with St. Louis.
Garrett Hartley: Oklahoma was second to Air Force at forcing touchbacks (29 in 104 attempts). Hartley has a "big" leg, which means he can kick the ball far - not that he suffers from dropsy. Best of all, he's not expected to be drafted.
Alex Trlica: Texas Tech forced 26 touchbacks in 92 attempts, presumably Trlica had something to do with that.
Chris Nendick: Once renowned for his accuracy, Nendick suffered from a slightly larger sample size. More important to us, Northern Illinois posted 16 touchbacks on just 50 attempts. Nendick is a true sleeper. Somehow, I mean that both sarcastically and seriously.
Steven Hauschka: If Hauschka can be lured away from dental school, he might be pro caliber. North Carolina State managed 12 touchbacks on just 57 attempts.
Taylor Mehlhaff: Mehlhaff is the top ranked kicker on many boards, a major red flag. Why spend a 6th round pick for someone who isn't provably better than a free agent? Still, Mehlhaff has the skills. Wisconsin posted 27 touchbacks on just 77 kickoffs.
I compiled this list after about an hour's worth of research. Hartley landed with the Saints. Trlica and Nendick are out of football [Editor's Note: Nendick plays for the Chicago Slaughter of the IFL]. Hauschka is a Falcon. Only Mehlhaff was drafted, and Mehlhaff is now a free agent. His sin? Missing an extra point.
Hauschka can not match Mare's touchback ability, but Hartley comes close. Neither was drafted because neither is Brandon Coutu-good at kicking field goals. Whatever happened to that guy?
My point: I figure college football produces a few kickers in every class that can nail touchbacks but are undervalued because of perceived inaccuracy. And if that is the case, one can't justify franchising a kicker, even a very good kicker, when a comparable talent can be had for free. Especially when the tag could be applied to a talent that can not be easily replaced, like Cory Redding.