January 11th, 2021 at 2:25pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
Blair Walsh back in the playoffs? The Saints are signing the veteran kicker to their practice squad as insurance, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets.
While the move ostensibly makes sense just as extra insurance in case COVID-19 impacts New Orleans’ kicking situation with too little time to find an outside replacement, it’s possible it’s a bit deeper than that. Saints kicker Will Lutz was shaky down the stretch, going just 5/9 on field goals in his final seven games while also missing an extra point. Then in Sunday’s wild card win over the Bears, he missed a 50-yarder.
Head coach Sean Payton expressed confidence in Lutz after the game, but it’s fair to wonder why if it was entirely about COVID, the Saints didn’t make this move before the playoffs. Whatever the case, Walsh hasn’t attempted a meaningful kick since the 2017 season with the Seahawks. He was with the Falcons briefly during 2019 training camp, but that’s it.
The last time Walsh kicked in the postseason, he infamously shanked a 27-yarder at the end of a game that would’ve given the Vikings a win over the Seahawks. Walsh started his career in Minnesota in 2012, and made the Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro as a rookie. After that playoff disaster his career quickly went downhill, and he was released midway through the following 2016 season. He was Seattle’s kicker for all of 2017, but wasn’t re-signed.
While Rosas did not kick well in Week 12, also booting a kickoff out of bounds, it would still be rather surprising to see a team give up on a third-year kicker who received a 2018 Pro Bowl invite. Rosas made 32 of 33 field goal tries last season and missed just one extra point. This year, he has not received nearly as many field goal chances. The former UDFA out of Southern Oregon is 8-for-12 on field goals and has missed three PATs.
Walsh caught on briefly with the Falcons and worked out for the Patriots and Jets this year. He also took part in a January workout for the then-kicker-needy Bears. Tavecchio and Walsh were briefly Falcons teammates this summer. The former held Atlanta’s kicking job for part of the 2018 season.
New England will need another kicker for Sunday’s contest against the Redskins, but the club doesn’t seem to be acting with any sense of urgency. The Patriots are not expected to sign a kicker today and may bring in more free agents on Thursday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The Chargers also held kicker auditions today, which created travel issues for several free agents, per RapSheet.
Nugent by far the most experienced of the kickers that tried out for the Patriots, having attempted more than 300 field goals during his career, but both Walsh and Forbath have each attempted more than 100 kicks each. Fry lost the Bears’ kicking competition over the summer, while Wright is an undrafted rookie free agent.
Meanwhile, Kaare Vedvik — who was traded from the Ravens to the Vikings this offseason before briefly landing with the Jets — declined to work out for the Patriots, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link), who adds Vedvik is focusing on punting and kickoffs rather than field goals.
Another kicker shakeup may occur this preseason. With their incumbent kicker struggling, the Falcons will sign Blair Walsh, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). While Giorgio Tavecchio remains on the team, he is now set for a full-fledged competition.
The Falcons confirmed the move, which comes after Dan Quinn suggested the team would bring in competition for Tavecchio. The third-year kicker has struggled during the preseason, missing 4 of 8 attempts — including a 39-yarder — thus far this month.
A Georgia alum, Walsh worked out for the Jets and Bears this year. Both teams opted against adding the former Vikings kicker. Should Walsh beat out Tavecchio, he would face his former team in Week 1. Walsh did not play in 2018.
Walsh has not kicked since a disappointing 2017 season. The Seahawks moved on from him after he went 21-for-29 that season. Minnesota initially selected Walsh in the 2012 sixth round and used him as its kicker for five seasons. The 29-year-old specialist earned All-Pro acclaim as a rookie, going 10-for-10 from beyond 50 yards, but his miss inside of 30 yards cost the Vikings a wild-card win against the Seahawks in 2015. He has yet to fully rebound from that errant try.
Walsh broke onto the scene as a rookie with the Vikings in 2012, setting an NFL single-season record with 10 field goals made from at least 50 yards. However, the kicker had shaky seasons in 2014 and 2016, leading to his release from Minnesota. He caught on with Seattle during the 2017 season, connecting on 21 of his 29 field goal attempts. He also missed a crucial field goal during that season’s wild card round, and he subsequently sat out the 2018 campaign.
After playing for the Jets in 2017, Catanzaro signed with the team again this past March. The veteran had an inconsistent 2018 campaign that was split between the Panthers and Buccaneers, and Mehta writes that Catanzaro had been shaky throughout camp. He struggled a bit during the Jets’ preseason opener, missing a pair of extra points. That caught the eye of head coach AdamGase, who talked about the possibility of adding competition.
“I don’t think there’s ever a downside to creating competition,” Gase said. “Where we’re at right now going through the spring, there’s been some really good moments where there’s been some consistency there. We just need to kind of get back to our rhythm with the snapper, holder, kicker.”
January 25th, 2019 at 10:19am CST by Zachary Links
The Bears are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to upgrade the kicker position. On Friday, they’ll work out a group of six or seven kickers including Nick Folk, Blair Walsh, and Austin MacGinnis, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitterlinks).
Parkey missed a potential game winner against the Eagles in the opening round of the playoffs, putting him on thin ice. His 43-yard try off the upright was a heartbreaker, though it wasn’t exactly Parkey’s fault as it was tipped by defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.
The 26-year-old kicker (27 in February) may have put his job in further jeopardy when he made a guest appearance on NBC’s Today show to discuss the miss. The lighthearted segment rubbed head coach Matt Nagy the wrong way and drew the ire of many Bears fans.
“For me, you understand that we always talk about a ‘we’ and not a ‘me’ thing,” Nagy said (via ESPN.com). “We always talk as a team, we win as a team, we lose as a team. You know, I just, I didn’t necessarily think that that was too much of a ‘we’ thing.”
It certainly sounds like the Bears want to replace Parkey, but his contract complicates matters. Parkey joined the Bears on a four-year, $15MM deal last offseason which calls for a $4.4MM dead cap hit if he is released before the 2019 season. Earlier this month, GM Ryan Pace indicated that the contract will not necessarily keep them from moving on.
“We talk about those things [the financial ramifications], but the most important thing is performance,” Pace said.