The Seahawks settled both their kicking competitions on Monday, cutting loose punter Jon Ryan and kicker Jason Myers in favor of Michael Dickson and Sebastian Janikowski.
The Michael Dickson Era has officially started in Seattle.
But first, head coach Pete Carroll saluted departed punter Jon Ryan, who was released on Monday after 10 seasons with the Seahawks.
“First, let me say this: Jon Ryan has been a great Seahawk,” Carroll said on Tuesday. “I loved the time we spent together. He’s been here since the beginning, and I know everybody would understand that it’s a very difficult decision when you have to make one like this after all this time together. He was doing great. Michael was just kicking out of this world and was doing the things that we had hoped he could do.
“It was the right time to help Jon get moving too. So he’s been a great player, been a great competitor, been a great team guy, community guy. We love him. He’s always a Seahawk. He’ll always be (a Seahawk), and really one of the great ones. We’ll miss the heck out of him but the time came where we had to go ahead and do it.”
More on the Jon Ryan-Seahawks separation
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The 36-year-old Ryan signed with the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Dickson — a 22-year-old rookie and 2018 fifth-round pick — will have to move on without his mentor.
“It was something that I was battling for every day, and I wanted to win the spot more than anything,” Dickson said on Tuesday. “But it was surprisingly more bittersweet than anything, just because Jon was such a great mentor to me when he was here. He was probably one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. So, yeah, it was a little bittersweet. But I’m super excited.”
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The Seahawks are excited as well, and with good reason. Through two exhibition games, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Dickson leads the NFL in gross average (51.7) and net average (50.1). Pro Football Focus has awarded him the top preseason punting grade in the NFL.
Beyond simple statistics, the Sydney, Australia, native’s Australian rules football background also provides unique versatility for the Seahawks.
“Without having to split time (with Ryan), we’ll be able to utilize some stuff that he can do and do some more things that we’re excited about,” Carroll said. “He’s a very, very versatile kicker.
“I think it’s good for him to feel the confidence in the program, that we’re behind him. He’s a really savvy competitor. Strong. He’s been doing a nice job in handling it.
“What he’s shown us so far is stuff we’ve never seen.”
The Seahawks have seen plenty already out of 40-year-old lefty Sebastian Janikowski, enough to waive kicker Jason Myers (who has since been claimed by the Jets) as well on Monday. The simultaneous end to the team’s two kicking competitions comes as no coincidence, allowing time for Dickson to become more comfortable holding for Janikowski.
That tandem was on display in last weekend’s preseason loss to the Chargers, when Janikowski connected on a 25-yard field goal out of Dickson’s hold.
“It was good just to get that weight off your shoulders, to know that you can do it in a game,” Dickson said.
Of course, he’ll have many more opportunities to do it in a game from here on out.
And, unfortunately, Dickson’s rise yielded Ryan’s eventual departure.
“It could have been a completely different scenario, but it’s just the person that he is and such a great sportsman,” Dickson said of his relationship with Ryan. “He just treated me right and we both respected each other and really were competing against ourselves.
“I was always super happy for him when he hit a good ball at practice, and he was happy for me when I hit a good ball. So it was really trying to develop ourselves individually and we ended up being in the same position.”