During Week 1 against the Broncos in Denver the special teams play was quite the mixed bag. While Michael Dickson continued his MVPunter campaign in fairly convincing fashion, Sebastian Janikowski struggled on back-to-back field goal attempts from 51 and 46 yards respectively.
I am not exactly the biggest Janikowski fan, if you follow me on Twitter—which to be clear is a terrible idea—you have seen me rant loudly about signing a 40-year-old kicker who didn’t play last year coming off a back injury multiple times. Two missed kicks from beyond 45 yards is way too early to start freaking out and planning his replacement, but for a kicker whose career field goal percentage is lower than that of Blair Walsh, I’m going to start anyways.
Obvious but expensive
Dan Bailey has been mentioned repeatedly as an option for the Seattle Seahawks should they want to upgrade at the position and secure the second most accurate kicker in NFL history. But, Bailey reportedly has four offers and could be looking to get as close as possible to his pre-cut $3.4 million dollar Dallas Cowboys salary.
According to Over the Cap Seattle is sitting at just over $5 million in cap space, a $3 million dollar kicker effectively empties the tank on acquiring any other free agents or players via trade that require extra money. Don’t get me wrong, I would love for Bailey to come to the Seahawks. I just don’t think it’s going to happen because of the money. Steven Hauschka was cut over a cap hit that was one million dollars less than what Bailey is likely to command.
Of course the organization could just gut it out and look to move on from Janikowski in the offseason, which seems most likely given how Walsh was handled. But if the organization wanted to kick some tires, who is out there?
Kai Forbath: Former kicker for the Minnesota Vikings. Struggled the last two years with PATs. He’s 47-of-53 on field goals over the last two years, including 7-of-10 from beyond 50 yards.
Matt McCrane: UDFA brought in this offseason by the Arizona Cardinals to compete with Phil Dawson. Cut by the organization during preseason despite not missing a kick. However, his sample size is very low at the pro level. College stats are good, but not great: 81% on field goals and 3-of-6 from beyond 50 yards would effectively make him a league average kicker if he directly translated. His cap hit, however, would be very low.
Cairo Santos: Cut from the Jets after healing from a groin injury, currently unsigned. He’s a career 84% on field goals, but struggles a bit at long range posting a 64% at ranges beyond 50 yards. However, this is another kicker Seattle would likely be able to sign for under $1 million in cap space, as his last two contracts were in the $600k range.
Both non-Bailey pro options listed above have career numbers better than Janikowski, but cutting and replacing the special teams captain would likely have an effect beyond just the numbers, even if he hasn’t been with the team long. Additionally, you’d be asking Dickson to switch his holds a few weeks into the season. All of this culminates into a situation where it seems likely the Seahawks won’t go searching for replacements.
Is it way too early to start panicking about the kicker position? Probably, but with the wounds of Walsh still open, perhaps you’ll forgive a little unnecessary indulgence.