What was obvious exactly one month ago when the Seahawks signed Blair Walsh is now reportedly imminent.
Steven Hauschka’s time as Seattle’s kicker is up.
The Buffalo Bills were about to sign Hauschka as a free agent on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
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The Bills released their kicker, Dan Carpenter, on Monday.
The Seahawks signed Walsh on Feb. 9 to a one-year contract for $800,000 in base pay. It’s a prove-it deal for 2017 for Seattle to see if Minnesota’s former All-Pro and draft choice has gotten over his infamous shank of a short field goal that would have sent the Vikings past the Seahawks in the playoffs two seasons ago.
“I can’t make a more vivid illustration of trying to improve the roster by bringing in competition of a high level,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said last week of Walsh at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. “What a great opportunity to get a talented guy. The guy’s kicked as well as anyone in football, in college and in the pros, when he’s had his chances. And he’s seen the other side of it, too, he knows how to bounce back. And so he’s a tremendous talent.”
The Vikings released their 2012 All-Pro and former Pro Bowl kicker after nine games of this past season. That was after Walsh, 27, missed four field goals and four extra points in nine games. The Vikings tried out six other kickers before replacing him with journeyman Kai Forbath. Walsh was idle and unsigned from mid-November to early February.
Hauschka was to become an unrestricted free agent Thursday at 1 p.m., after Seattle let the contract expire for its kicker since 2011 He has the third-highest success rate on field goals in league history (87.2 percent), but slumped this past season. He missed four field goals (he was 33 for 37) and a career-high six extra points in 2016. His missed PATs last season -- at the longer distance changed for 2015 -- were as many as Hauschka had missed in his previous four seasons combined for the Seahawks.
Before his troubles last season, Hauschka was so good many fans called him “Money.” He made 93 of 103 field goals, including one from 58 yards, from the stretch of Seattle’s Super Bowl-winning season of 2013 through the ‘15 season. His kick that sliced through the 25-below wind chill of Minneapolis minutes before Walsh’s infamous miss won that playoff game at Minnesota two seasons ago.
He is four years older than Walsh, who will earn nearly $2 million less in base pay in 2017 than Hauschka got paid by the Seahawks last year.
“Unfortunately he had gotten in a little stink with kicking the extra points and it added up on him,” Carroll said two days after the Seahawks’ season ended with the loss at Atlanta Jan. 14 in the divisional round of the playoffs.
So adding Walsh and subtracting Hauschka is one way for the Seahawks have gotten younger and cheaper -- at an often-vital, season-changing position.