The Seahawks appeared to begin their search to replace free-agent kicker Stephen Hauschka this week, and they signaled that with the unlikeliest of signings Thursday.
That would be Blair Walsh, who Seahawks fans remember fondly due to his missed chip-shot field goal for the Vikings that allowed Seattle to escape Minnesota with a playoff victory in January 2016. But after a rough campaign last season for Hauschka in which the veteran went 33 for 37 on field goals and 29 for 35 on extra points, the Seahawks have added Walsh not even three months after he was cut loose by Minnesota. The 31-year-old Hauschka, meanwhile, is preparing to hit the open market next month.
“I think you can kinda get the indication that it looks like they’re in the process of moving away from Stephen Hauschka,” John Clayton told “Bob, Groz and Tom” on Friday. “I think this is the first sign they’re going to get somebody less expensive, (who is) still going to be young, still has a powerful leg, and then hope that the special teams coach and people here can get him back in the right direction and regain his confidence.”
Clayton believes the missed field goal in the playoffs against Seattle had a lasting effect on the 27-year-old Walsh that resulted in four missed PATs and four missed field goals in 2016, leading to his release by the Vikings.
“I think it was pretty clear the mistake that he made in that playoff game against Seattle lingered through the 2016 season to a point that (the Vikings) just gave up on him,” Clayton said.
If the Seahawks could turn a kicker like Walsh, a first-team All-Pro in 2012, back into a reliable player, it wouldn’t be the first time for the franchise. After all, Hauschka came to Seattle after three lackluster years with Baltimore and Denver and developed into one of the better kickers into the league over his six seasons with the Seahawks.
“In many ways when Hauschka had some difficulties in Baltimore, it was very similar to Blair Walsh. Stephen was able to fix it and has had a great career with Seattle, but now it looks like that career’s about ready to end and Walsh is the first guy that is coming in to challenge and take over that job,” Clayton said.
Don’t expect Walsh to be the only option the Seahawks look at this offseason, though. Clayton expects them to add some competition to the roster at the position, and there’s nothing preventing Seattle from bringing back Hauschka, either.
“You can’t just put all your eggs in Blair Walsh because you don’t know for sure if he still has that confidence. … I think they probably got him at a good cost and now he gets a chance to come here and revitalize his career.”
A resurgence could see Walsh deliver more wins for the Seahawks – this time, on purpose.