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Blair Walsh may be gone, but the Seahawks still have major question marks at kicker

Buffalo Bills v Oakland Raiders Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks have had problems at placekicker for the last two seasons. Steven Hauschka’s extra point difficulties defined his 2016 season, while Blair Walsh’s pathetic 72.4% success rate on field goals was a major reason for Seattle’s failure to make the 2017 playoffs.

There was every reason to be concerned that Walsh would not snap out of his 2016 slump that prompted his dismissal from the Minnesota Vikings, and those fears were confirmed. So what does 2018 bring to the table? Well, it’s a mixed bag.

Sebastian Janikowski is the presumptive frontrunner to replace Walsh. The former Oakland Raiders placekicker missed all of 2017 with a back injury, and he’s 40 years old. Only Matt Bryant, Phil Dawson, and future Hall-of-Famer Adam Vinatieri are older at that position.

“Seabass” is known for his strong leg and prolific ability to boot it through the uprights from 50+yards, but he was just 3/8 (.375) in 2016, his worst percentage from that distance since going 0/3 in 2005. In 2015, Janikowski was just 5/8 between 40-49 yards. The good news is that Janikowski has only missed three extra points since it was moved back to the 15-yard line, so that doesn’t figure be an issue should he win the job.

His health is very much a concern at his age, as in addition to the back problems in 2017, he missed time at OTAs with a hip injury. I’m not really comfortable relying on a 40-year-old coming off a herniated disc.

Also in the running is Jason Myers, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s not good and has never been good.

Myers is 76/88 on PATs, all under the current rules. He’s only made 10/19 field goals from 50+ yards. He was sub-80% on FGAs in 2016 and 2017, and the Jags saw it fit to get rid of him midseason. Even his career-best 2015 campaign, while he made 26/30 field goals, he missed seven PATs. His lack of hang time on kickoffs is a real problem, and that might be exacerbated under the new kickoff rules.

So in effect, the Seahawks kicker competition is between a someone who has been totally unreliable in PATs and/or FGs in his three seasons in the league and one of the oldest players in the NFL, who’s been out of action for two years. That doesn’t fill me up with confidence.

The best we can hope for is that Janikowski doesn’t look like a hampered 40-year-old and wins this competition over Myers. Walsh was an unacceptable 21/28 (75%) from 49 yards and shorter, so if Janikowski can at least patch up that issue, it’ll be a boost to Seattle’s struggling special teams unit. If his leg is still as strong as advertised, then perhaps Pete Carroll will feel more confident in actually attempting 50+ yard FGs, as the Seahawks have only attempted two (!) over the last two seasons.

Should preseason arrive and neither man impresses, then don’t be surprised to see the Seahawks kicking woes persist for another season.