The Seattle Seahawks were expected to look for potential replacements at kicker after Blair Walsh's up-and-ultimately-down 2017 season. They began that search right away and signed free agent Jason Myers to a futures deal shortly after bringing him in for a visit.
The move was first reported Wednesday by ESPN's Field Yates. The Seahawks also brought in free-agent punter Jeff Locke for a visit, per Yates.
Myers, 26, spent parts of three seasons with the Jaguars, who released him in October after he missed three kicks in a three-week stretch. That followed some struggles from Myers during training camp and the preseason, according to ESPN Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco. The three misses that sealed Myers' fate in Jacksonville came in a pair of Jaguars losses and were all from beyond 50 yards: 52, 54 and 54.
Myers finished the season 11 of 15 and went 64 of 79 (81 percent) over 38 games with the Jaguars. He made 76 of 88 (86.4 percent) extra-point attempts during that span.
The Seahawks were able to sign Myers now -- as opposed to having to wait until the start of free agency in March -- because he was unsigned at season's end. It was a similar situation last offseason with Walsh, who had been released by Minnesota.
The Seahawks gave Walsh a one-year deal worth as much as $1.1 million with no guaranteed money, which was significantly less than what they would have had to pay to re-sign their long-time kicker, Stephen Hauschka. Bringing back Hauschka would have meant betting big on a bounce-back season after he struggled in 2016, specifically with extra points and the trajectory of his kicks. Seattle instead made a smaller bet on Walsh to regain his early-career form.
The decision was looking like a shrewd one when Walsh began the season by making 12 of his first 13 field goals. But he missed all three of his attempts in a three-point loss to Washington in Week 9. That began a second-half slide in which Walsh made only nine of his final 16 field goals to finish 21 of 29 on the year. His 72.4 percent field-goal rate ranked 29th among qualified kickers.
Walsh had a chance to end his and his team's season on a high note, but he missed a 48-yard attempt in the closing seconds of the Seahawks' 26-24 loss to Arizona on Sunday.
"First thing I thought of is that I felt so bad for him," coach Pete Carroll said postgame, "because he's trying to get out of this thing and he just didn't get to put it to rest today. There's a kick and if you make it, maybe you leave the rest of the stuff behind, and he didn't get to do that today. He's a good competitor and it breaks my heart that he wasn't able to get that done."
The signing of Myers hardly means the Seahawks are done searching for potential replacements. They could still sign other kickers to add competition and could conceivably draft one, though that seems less likely given that Seattle is working with reduced draft capital having traded its second- and third-round picks.
The Seahawks' visit with Locke, 28, is an indication that they'll look for cheaper alternatives to Jon Ryan, a potential salary cap casualty. Seattle's longest-tenured player, Ryan is 36 and is scheduled to count $3.6 million against the 2018 cap, double his cap cost from this past season.