By Jim Moore
As a Seahawks fan, I’m fine with the free-agent exodus out of Seattle thus far. The losses of O’Brien Schofield and Chris Maragos cause a minimal shrug; the losses of Golden Tate and Breno Giacomini cause a medium shrug.
Schofield and Maragos were backups. Tate and Giacomini? You’ve got replacements who might be upgrades in Percy Harvin and Michael Bowie. Plus you saved around $10 million a year by not re-signing them.
Steven Hauschka connected on 33 of 35 field-goal attempts in 2013, including two that won games for the Seahawks. (AP)
But if Steven Hauschka signs somewhere else, it will be the biggest mistake in franchise history. Well, maybe I’m overstating that a little bit, but I just hope that general manager John Schneider understands the importance of having a fantastic kicker.
I always feel like kickers are undervalued. It’s almost like they’re last in line in terms of priority to football teams. I’m not saying they should be at the front of the line, just the middle of the line at least.
Whenever Hauschka comes on the field, you expect three things:
1) The ball won’t be returned on kickoffs because he boots it through the end zone or too deep in the end zone for the return man to bring it out; 2) three points on a field goal; or 3) one point on a PAT.
This guy never misses. And not only does he never miss, he almost always kicks the ball right through the middle of the uprights.
With Hauschka, you don’t have to use body English when you watch him kick; the ball’s not hooking wildly or fading badly. It’s generally drawing nicely, like a perfectly struck drive on the golf course.
Plus he addressed concerns about the strength of his leg last offseason; Hauschka proved in 2013 that he had range to 55 yards.
The 28-year-old has improved his field-goal accuracy in his three years here – from 83 percent in 2011 to 89 percent in 2012 to 94 percent this year.
He’s missed 10 field goals in three years, going 82 of 92, including 33 of 35 last year. He’s so good you remember the misses – one that was blocked and returned for a touchdown at Indianapolis and that chip shot that he boinked off the left upright against the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field.
I just don’t understand how a guy that’s that important to your team can be left to test free agency. The league’s top kickers make a little more than $3 million a year. You’re telling me that with all of the money you spend on other players that a kicker like Hauschka isn’t worth $3 million a year?
I always think about games that hang in the balance. The Seahawks play a lot of close games. Even when they lose, it’s been by seven points or less in the last two years. Plus they’ve had their share of struggles in the red zone. You always want to have a kicker who makes certain you come away with points.
If Hauschka signs elsewhere, I can already see it: the Seahawks will have an open competition in training camp. One will win the job, of course, and he’ll look like money in August, but chances are, he’ll be untested in regular-season games. Or he’ll be a veteran who was a castoff from another team. And if he’s a castoff, he’s flawed in some way.
Name a flaw with Steven Hauschka. I can’t either. Imagine if a missed field goal from 41 yards prevents the Seahawks from a pivotal win next year against the 49ers.
When you have a sure thing, it’s worth paying $3 million a year to keep it.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website, jimmoorethego2guy.com, and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.