The Seahawks made an interesting, if slightly under-the-radar move this offseason by signing formerVikings kicker Blair Walsh. Walsh, who missed a kick that would have pushed the Vikings into the divisional round of the playoffs but instead lifted the Seahawks, is now considered the Seattle’s insurance policy against Steven Hauschka leaving in free agency.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider, however, had to do a bit of soul searching during the process. Walsh’s accuracy in both extra points and field goals took sharp hits after the playoff miss, and eventually led the Vikings to make a change.
“It was a discussion, yeah,” Schneider said at the combine earlier this week. “I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t. But he’s a very confident guy. He was on his visit. He’s had…the year before he was a Pro Bowler, I believe. He’s gone on a streak where he’s gone 17 for 17 and, you know, heâs got a lot of talent. There are certain boxes he had to check before we moved forward with it.”
Throwing Walsh a lifeline is a low-risk/high reward situation for Schneider, with the obvious hope that Walsh can make a comeback. Like the yips in baseball, a kicker’s sudden decline is completely mental, and we’ve watched Walsh try and right his issues on the world’s largest stage. With an offseason to mull the future and retool himself as a kicker, there is always a chance he can get better.
“I think it’s just really, quite honestly, it’s an aspect of unrestricted free agency,” Schneider said, when asked if Walsh was simply Plan B to Hauschka. “You have all your boxes to check. I know it seems kind of cold. We take it personally, because we have such a personal relationship with these guys. Steven’s been phenomenal for us, has done a lot of great things for the Seahawks.
“We had an opportunity to kind of check a box in free agency with Blair. We’ll be looking at somebody else to come in and compete, as well, too. It could be Steven. I’m not sure. But with Blair, he was a guy that we call reserve-future signings. He was still out there. A number of teams wanted to sign him. We brought him in, worked him out, got a deal done. It’s kind like checking that box and, OK, take a deep breath and we can move on to what’s next. You go into free agency you have Plan Aâbut there are 25 other letters in the alphabet. We’ve got like a whole slew of things going on.”
Seahawks fans were once grateful to Walsh for his struggles, but could return the favor by showing him some love this summer in training camp.