The Seahawks are apparently done with Steven Hauschka as their kicker.
Seattle announced on Thursday it has signed former Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh.
Yes, that Blair Walsh. The one who shanked a short field goal -- shorter than an extra point -- wide left to gift the Seahawks a 10-9 victory in arctic Minnesota in the NFC wild-card playoffs in January 2016.
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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 has been idle and unsigned since mid-November.
Hauschka is due to become an unrestricted free agent next month. 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.
He is four years older than Walsh and had been Seattle’s kicker since 2011, when the Seahawks signed him after Denver released him.
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 2015 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.
“Unfortunately he had gotten in a little stink with kicking the extra points and it added up on him,” coach Pete Carroll said last month, two days after the Seahawks’ season ended with the loss at Atlanta in the divisional round of the playoffs. “I was really, really excited that he finished the season on a good note and he hit everything he had a chance to hit because he knew he was up against it. He knew he needed to show that. I wish it would have happened a few weeks earlier just so he could have had more weeks to bank on that.
“He is a really good kicker that got in a bit of a rut with the extra points and he’s come through for us a lot of times and been a big-play guy for us so. But I outwardly commended him about showing that he was back and on by the way he finished.”
Hauschka made $2.7 million with a salary-cap charge of $3,525,000 this past season.
Walsh had a base pay of $1.15 million in 2016.
So adding Walsh and subtracting Hauschka would be one way for the Seahawks to get younger and cheaper -- at an often-vital, season-changing position.
The Seahawks could keep both Hauschka and Walsh for a preseason competition, but that would require rw-signing Hauschka in an open market and more money committed against the 2017 cap for the kicker position than Seattle’s current regime has ever spent. Walsh looks more like a replacement than a competitor.
Walsh set an NFL record in 2012 as Minnesota’s sixth-round draft choice out of Georgia when he made all 10 of his field-goal attempts from 50-plus yards. He led the league in made field goals (34) in 2015, but the Vikings gave up on him midway through this past season amid belief he never truly got over that playoff miss against the Seahawks.