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.
The battle to replace Cody Parkey in Chicago is getting a little tighter. The Bears have released kickers Redford Jones and John Baron II as part of a handful of roster moves made Sunday, they announced on Twitter.
After Parkey’s now infamous double-doink eliminated the Bears from the playoffs last year, they’ve gone all out in their search for his replacement. They just had eight kickers at their rookie minicamp for tryouts, and they had four on the roster before making this move. Jones is the former Tulsa kicker who the Bears signed back in January. Baron was an undrafted free agent from San Diego State who Chicago just added last week.
With Baron and Jones gone, only Elliott Fry and Chris Blewitt are left. The Bears have left no stone unturned, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they weren’t done adding to the kicking group just yet. Fry shined in the recently-folded AAF, while Blewitt is the former Pitt kicker signed back in March.
Jones and Baron weren’t the only ones who got bounced from the 90-man roster, as defensive back Adarius Pickett and defensive end Lawrence Marshall were both cut as well. Pickett and Marshall were both rookie undrafted free agents who were just signed recently, from UCLA and Michigan respectively.
The Bears signed two rookie undrafted free agents to take their place, offensive lineman Tommy Doles from Northwestern and defensive lineman Jalen Dalton from North Carolina. Both players participated in the minicamp.
The Bears have had an unstable kicking situation recently, and it’s one of the team’s biggest needs as they look to repeat as NFC North champions in 2019. The battle will be closely monitored in training camp.