Seattle Seahawks

Burned by a kicker, Seahawks reportedly trying out Sebastian Janikowski

Sebastian Janikowski, here kicking for Oakland against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field during a game in 2014, is reportedly visiting Tuesday with Seattle about a possible free-agent contract. He is 40 years old, the sixth-oldest player in the NFL.
Sebastian Janikowski, here kicking for Oakland against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field during a game in 2014, is reportedly visiting Tuesday with Seattle about a possible free-agent contract. He is 40 years old, the sixth-oldest player in the NFL. AP file, 2015

This time last year the Seahawks wanted to get younger and cheaper at kicker.

Now, burned by that decision in 2017, they are apparently considering going about as old as there is in the game.

After repeated misses by Blair Walsh last season, Seattle is set to host 40-year-old Sebastian Janikowski on a free-agent visit Tuesday. That is according to a report by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Janikowski began last season, his 18th consecutive one for the Oakland Raiders, as the league's sixth-oldest player. Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is the NFL's oldest, at 45 years.

Janikowski is 11th in NFL history with 1,799 points. That is third among active players behind kickers and Arizona Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson. Janikowski has the league record for most field goals made from 50 yards or longer: 55.

The Seahawks signed Walsh last spring from Minnesota, to a one-year contract worth $800,000. Walsh replaced Steven Hauschka. The former All-Pro with the Vikings arrived at 27 years old, four years younger and $2.45 million cheaper than Hauschka, who signed with Buffalo instead.

While Hauschka kicked well for the Bills, the Seahawks got (less than) what they paid for. Walsh made just 21 of 29 field goals in 2017 for Seattle. He started last season converting 12 of 13, then went 9 for 16 to finish the year. He missed three field goals in the three-point home loss to Washington in November, another one in the six-point loss at Jacksonville in December and his last try, in the final seconds of the 26-24 loss to Arizona in last weekend’s season finale.

Two more wins last season and the Seahawks (9-7) would have been in the playoffs.

To no one's surprise the Seahawks let Walsh's contract expire. As Walsh became a free agent Seattle signed Jason Myers in January, with the understanding Myers would eventually get competition for the kicking job in 2018. The 26-year old from Marist was the Jaguars’ kicker for all 16 games of the 2015 and ’16 seasons and the first six games of 2017. Jacksonville released him after he missed four of his first 15 field-goal tries last season.

Walsh was 33rd in field-goal accuracy (73 percent) last season in the 32-team NFL.

Who was 32nd? Myers.

That's why Janikowski is apparently on his way to visit Seattle

He's earned $51 million kicking since 2000 for the Raiders. The only team Janikowski has known in the NFL told him in February it would not be re-signing him this year, after his Oakland contract that paid him $3 million guaranteed last year expired.

Why, you may ask, wouldn't the Seahawks draft a kicker this month to complete for the job?

Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have not drafted a kicker in any of the eight drafts they've run leading the Seahawks. The last one Seattle drafted came in 2008: Brandon Coutu, in the seventh round. He never kicked in a regular-season game for the Seahawks, and the GM who picked him, Tim Ruskell, was fired the next year.

Plus, the Seahawks right now own only eight picks in the seven-round draft. Barring an expected draft trade or two in the next couple weeks, eight picks would tie 2015 for the fewest of the Carroll-Schneider regime.

It's not all that common to draft kickers, league wide. It's downright rare to be what Janikowski is.

Oakland made him the fourth kicker drafted in the first round. Owner Al Davis selected him 17th overall in 2000 amid all kinds of bellyaching.

Eighteen years and 414 regular-season field goals later, Janikowski may get a chance to kick on in 2018. In Seattle.

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