The Seahawks on Wednesday signed free agent kicker Jason Myers as the team begins its search for a replacement for Blair Walsh, who struggled in 2017 and isn't expected back.
It didn’t take long for the Seahawks to begin moving on from kicker Blair Walsh, as they signed free agent Jason Myers to a futures contract Wednesday.
Myers, who spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons and six games of 2017 with the Jacksonville Jaguars before being released, visited with the Seahawks this week.
Signing an NFL futures contract means Myers will become part of the team when the new league year begins March 14.
Walsh had a one-year contract with Seattle and will become an unrestricted free agent in March. He is not expected to return after making only 21 of 29 field-goal attempts. He missed a potential game-winner from 48 yards Sunday against Arizona, three attempts in a 17-14 loss to Washington and a 52-yard attempt that could have tied the score against Atlanta.
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Myers, 26, played at Marist in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., before making Jacksonville’s roster as an undrafted free agent in 2015.
Known for his leg strength, Myers was 64 of 79 on field goals (81 percent) and 76 of 88 on point-after attempts (86.4 percent) in 38 games with Jacksonville. He was released in October following three misses that proved critical in two losses (all from 52 yards or longer). Myers was 11 of 15 this season before being waived but 10 of 11 from inside 50 yards.
Myers also had workouts with the Chargers and Bengals, among others, following his release.
Myers’ background is similar to Walsh’s — being waived the previous season after a few critical misses — which might elicit skepticism among fans.
But the Seahawks also likely will continue to look at kickers in the offseason and could sign more than one to have competition in training camp. Walsh was the only kicker Seattle had in camp in 2017 after signing as a free agent last February.
If they go with Myers, the Seahawks would hope it turns out more like it did with Stephen Hauschka than with Walsh.
Hauschka is remembered now for a successful six-year run in Seattle, during which he set a team record for highest career field goal percentage — he made 175 of 197 attempts from 2011-16, 88.83 percent. But he had been waived six times by five teams before signing with the Seahawks.
Seattle decided not to try to match offers they figured Hauschka would receive when he became a free agent last year, instead signing Walsh in February to a one-year contract worth $1.1 million. Hauschka signed a three-year with the Buffalo Bills worth up to $8.85 million with $4 million guaranteed.
Seattle on Wednesday also signed fullback Jalston Fowler to a futures deal. Fowler, who played much of the past three years with Tennessee before being released in December, was on the Seahawks’ practice squad at the end of the 2017 season.
Fowler’s signing means seven of the nine players on Seattle’s practice squad at the end of the season have been signed to futures deals. The two that have not are linebackers Kache Palacio and Jason Thompson. Palacio played at Washington State, and Thompson is a Kennedy High School grad.
Fowler’s signing gives Seattle two fullbacks on its roster. Tre Madden played that spot for eight games this season before being injured. Madden remains under contract for the 2018 season.
The signing of Myers could be the first step in Seattle reshaping its kicking units in 2018.
Visiting the Seahawks at the same time as Myers was punter is Jeff Locke, who played at UCLA and has been with the Vikings, Colts and Lions in an NFL career that dates to 2013.
Unlike Myers, Locke did not sign. But that he visited indicates Seattle is exploring options for possibly replacing veteran punter Jon Ryan, whose contract could make him vulnerable to being a salary-cap casualty in 2018.
Ryan’s contract calls for cap hits of $3.2 million and $3.6 million the next two seasons with Seattle able to save $2 million and $3 million in those two years by releasing him — Ryan, who turned 36 in November, counted as just a $1.6 million cap hit the past two years after signing a four-year contract worth $10 million in 2016.
Locke, an All-Pac-12 punter as a senior at UCLA in 2012, was a fifth-round pick of, yep, the Vikings, in 2013 and played for Minnesota from 2013-16 before signing with the Colts as a free agent last March. But despite signing a deal that included $1.25 million guaranteed, he was released by the Colts in August after losing the job to Rigoberto Sanchez.
He signed with the Lions as an injury replacement for Sam Martin before being waived after five games when Martin returned.
Locke averaged 45.3 yards per punt with the Lions with a net average of 42.2 that would have ranked sixth in the NFL if he had enough attempts to qualify.
Ryan had a season that was statistically mostly in line with his others with the Seahawks, averaging 45.0 yards per punt with a net of 38.8.
Ryan is Seattle’s longest-tenured player, joining the team in coach Mike Holmgren’s final year and is the only player on the roster who pre-dates the arrival of coach Pete Carroll in 2010.
Ryan has played in 159 consecutive games, a Seahawks record, and is the franchise career leader in many punting categories, including punts (770), punt yards (34,480) and longest punt (77).