Jason Myers is once again a Seattle Seahawk, as was always his destiny. Cut in training camp last year in favor of the perfectly fine but also perfectly ancient Sebastian Janikowski, Myers made the most of his exile.
He finished 2018 as the NFL’s seventh-most accurate kicker. At 91.7 percent, which is, good. Six makes in seven tries beyond 50 yards. He went to the Pro Bowl for the Jets, which is, good, for the Jets, because 4-12 can’t be fun for everyone.
After news got out that the Seahawks and Myers agreed on a four-year deal in the vicinity of $15-16 million, you couldn’t log in to a Seattle sports site or turn on a sports radio show without hearing regret about how the front office let him get away last year. Four thoughts follow on why it isn’t so bad to have him back in the fold.
1. You can’t go back in time and uncut him, so the past is irrelevant.
Were the Seahawks to possess a time machine — pay no attention to the secret chamber beneath the V-Mac, where there totally isn’t a functioning time machine, haha, that’s absurd, please keep driving along 405 without staring at the little black hole that has swallowed the east practice field — the first thing they’d use it for after reversing the D-Jack OPI on XL’s opening drive and the end of XLIX, would no doubt be to keep Myers for 2018, securing his excellent production at a low rate of pay for years to come.
(theoretical editor’s note: cut down a smidge on sentence length, johnny)
Clearly, paying Myers less than $4 million annually would be preferable. Sans time machine, though, that’s a non-starter. What matters is that John Schneider and Pete Carroll have suddenly begun to value the kicker position far more than in the last two seasons. Their last two kickers made a combined $2.7 million. The Seahawks have exited their bargain-bin shopping phase for kickers.
2. Here’s the problem: Myers probably peaked in 2018
His career FG percentage, even after his breakout season in New York, is still 84.3 percent. That’s not bad at all, but Myers probably didn’t turn into Justin Tucker overnight. Regression, like winter, comes for us all. Nobody should count on another 91.7.
I’m not so sure, however, that the Seahawks are paying for past performance. Nor should one assume that they were fooled by the shiny percentage.
It’s easy to see the positives they probably saw in him. He’s young (27) but has played four full seasons. His stats are not inflated by high altitude or the convenience of a dome. Not after stops in Jacksonville and the Big Apple. He already doesn’t fit the Blair Walsh or Janikowski profile.
He makes long kicks, too: lifetime 16-of-26 from beyond 50 yards, including a sparkling 6-of-7 performance last year.
But still, $4 million? That’s top 5 money. Top 6, technically — only six kickers are under contract for $4 million or more annually. Myers might make it seven.
3. Myers isn’t worth top 5 money to every team, but the Seahawks aren’t every team
The style Seattle plays results in tight games. A lot of tight games. You know this. We know this. It is known. Carroll likes it that way. Shortening the game, he calls it.
It’s hard to argue with the results when the Seahawks lost their seven games last year by a total of 30 points. And when they went 95 consecutive games without losing by more than 10 points. They were in every game for five straight seasons. (They’re on a new streak of 19 games, by the way.)
Whether you like Carroll’s “keep-it-close-and-win-it-at-the-death” tactics or not is fairly immaterial. Seattle’s going to be in close games, in which the value of a single field goal is inflated. Seattle’s drives are going to stall sometimes for fault of too much running, and they’re going to stall in that no-man’s land where a kicker’s strong leg can make a big difference. Or in the red zone, where a missed kick might decide the game. Since the game’s gonna be close.
Every miss is bigger for the Seahawks. It didn’t just feel that way when Walsh botched a game-tying and a game-winning FG in 2017. Or when Janikowski couldn’t convert two end-of-the-half tries in Denver. Or when his supposed long range didn’t materialize in a playoff game lost by two points. It is that way.
4. Which means “overpay” is a bad term
Poor execution on very, VERY makeable kicks in 2016, 2017 and 2018 cost the Seahawks games. Is $4 million an overpay for Myers if he’s kicking FG here the last three seasons? He’s missed a total of five times inside of 50 yards. Yes, a total, in the last three seasons.
In 2016, 2017 and 2018 combined, Seahawks kickers missed 14 kick attempts from closer than 50 yards.
Rewriting this so you don’t miss it: Myers has five close misses since 2016, Seahawks have 14.
Myers’ worst season, in which he made only 82.1 percent of his kicks, is still better than either Walsh (72.4) or Janikowski (81.5) produced. The Seahawks improved their kicking attack, and increased their odds of winning any given game. If Myers’ addition results in one more win another lesser kicker would not have provided, he’ll out-earn his contract.
Thought experiment time! Add an extra field goal to each of the NFC playoff teams’ games this season. Ties count as half a win.
Rams go from 13-3 to 13-3. Gain: nothing
Saints go from 13-3 to 13-2-1. Gain: half a win
Cowboys go from 10-6 to 11-5. Gain: one win
Eagles go from 9-7 to 10-5-1. Gain: one and a half wins
Bears go from 12-4 to 14-2. Gain: two wins
Seahawks go from 10-6 to 12-4. Gain: two wins
The teams with some of the shakiest kickers of 2018 (Janikowski was 22nd, Cody Parkey 30th in FG percentage) would have benefited the most. The Seahawks may not be a kicker away from being the 1 seed again, but when their games are won at the margins, every little bit helps. It’s not crazy to say they’ve been giving away wins for three years now. I bet Carroll is tired of it.
Wrapping up with a little tl;dr for all the folks who skipped to the end, like we did for mystery novels when we were ten years old. There are four main attributes you’d like your kicker to possess:
- Track record with success
- Potential to be the long-term solution
- Big leg
- Cheap price tag
The Seahawks are getting three out of four on the list. That’s not so bad. And if it doesn’t work out? More Michael Dickson drop kicks.