History Of The Kicker Position For The Seattle Seahawks

If I had the time, I’d do a serious deeper dive into this area than I’ve already done, attempting to cover every kicker we’ve ever seen on any formation of the Seahawks’ roster, including all pre-season kicking battles and whatnot.  And, if I ever win the Lotto, I might do just that.  But, in the meantime, just know this isn’t an account of every single kicker who’s ever put on a Seahawks jersey, or every single random player who’s ever been involved with the kicking off of a football.  To my knowledge, there’s only been one non-kicker to ever score an extra point (no non-kickers have attempted any actual field goals for the Seahawks, although some might consider Blair Walsh a “non-kicker”, hashtag HI-YO!), and that non-kicker is Steve Largent.  He is 2/2 in extra points, in 1985 and 1989, Largent recovered a couple of botched extra point attempts off the leg of Norm Johnson and ran the ball in for those extra points.  Apparently, before the NFL instituted the 2-point conversion in 1994, if you punched a botched extra point into the endzone it would count as 1 point (I’m not sure if teams would ever intentionally try to score their extra points this way – rather than kick them in – but I’m now utterly fascinated by this concept and wish to waste hours of my life looking into this … another time).

Jason Myers, recently signed to a Futures Contract with the Seattle Seahawks, may very well become the 17th kicker in franchise history.  Here is a quick list of all those guys who’ve been on the regular season/post-season roster, in order, with notes on each to follow:

  1. Don Bitterlich – 1976
  2. John Leypoldt – 1976-1977
  3. Efren Herrera – 1978-1981
  4. Wilson Alvarez – 1981
  5. Norm Johnson – 1982-1990
  6. Scott Hagler – 1987
  7. John Kasay – 1991-1994
  8. Todd Peterson – 1995-1999
  9. Kris Heppner – 2000
  10. Rian Lindell – 2000-2002
  11. Josh Brown – 2003-2007
  12. Olindo Mare – 2008-2010
  13. Brandon Coutu – 2008, 2011
  14. Steven Hauschka – 2011-2016
  15. Ryan Longwell – 2012
  16. Blair Walsh – 2017

Don Bitterlich was drafted in the 3rd round by the Seahawks in 1976 – the year they entered the NFL – and was the 7th overall player selected by the Seahawks in that draft.  He ended up playing in 3 games, making 1/4 field goals and 7/7 extra points.  His only made field goal was 27 yards.  He would never play in the NFL again, but he goes down as hitting the first field goal in franchise history, so that’s something!  According to Wikipedia, he’s currently a project manager, and plays the accordian (I feel like he, or someone in his family, had a hand in updating his page).

John Leypoldt entered the league in 1971.  The Bills released him earlier in the 1976 season after missing 3 field goals in their first game, and he went on to be a pretty mediocre kicker – even by 1970s standards – for the Seahawks through 1977.  He would play in 2 more games with the Saints in 1978 before calling it a career.  Tragically, I guess he died at 40, in 1987, of a heart attack.

Efren Herrera was acquired from Dallas for a 5th round draft pick in 1978, and was the first truly great kicker in Seahawks history, relatively speaking.  He made just under 70% of his field goals, but was a local hero for his fake field goal prowess.

In 1981, Herrera landed on the IR, so Wilson Alvarez was brought in for the final 4 games.  He was 3/7 on field goals (all his makes were under 30 yards; all his misses were 40+) and 14/15 on extra points.  These were his only games in the NFL.

In 1982, Efren Herrera was involved in a contract dispute, so to counter this, the Seahawks brought on undrafted free agent rookie Norm Johnson, who would eventually win the job in the pre-season.  Herrera would go on to play one more season, with the Bills, before hanging it up after the strike-shortened season (this would not be the last time the Bills took on our kicker scraps).  Norm Johnson, dubbed Mr. Automatic with the Seahawks, has the most field goal attempts in franchise history, the second-most makes, and had the highest field goal percentage in franchise history by the time he left.  He would go on to have a long and successful career, finally calling it a day after the 1999 season.

In 1987, there was another NFL strike, and this time the league opted to play games with replacement players.  That’s how we know the name Scott Hagler, who played in just 2 games in the NFL, both with the Seahawks, both while the rest of the league was on strike.  He was a rookie free agent the team signed earlier in the year to compete with Norm Johnson, but Mr. Automatic would ultimately reclaim his job once the strike ended.  Hagler was 2/2 in field goals (both under 30 yards) and 4/4 in extra points.

John Kasay was just the second kicker the Seahawks ever drafted, in the 4th round in 1991.  He was amazing pretty much from the get-go, but ultimately left because he wanted to play closer to home, with the Carolina Panthers in their inaugural season in 1995, signing as a free agent and having a long and successful career with them.

Todd Peterson was a 7th round draft pick by the New York Giants in 1993.  He never played for the Giants, and only played in 2 games with Arizona in 1994 before signing with the Seahawks.  He had a fine career with the Seahawks, but was ultimately a cap casualty in the 2000 pre-season.

Kris Heppner was an undrafted rookie free agent in 2000 who won the job in a pre-season kicking competition with Todd Peterson.  He played in a total of 4 games, making 6/9 field goals (missing 1 kick of 50+, and 2 kicks of under 40), and would ultimately be released for his misses and his short kickoffs.

Rian Lindell was another undrafted rookie free agent in 2000, initially with the Dallas Cowboys, who lost his job there in the pre-season.  The Seahawks brought him in and he was just sort of okay, but far from great (I seem to remember his kickoffs also being less than ideal).  After the 2002 season, the Bills signed him as a Restricted Free Agent, and the Seahawks opted not to match the offer.  I’m assuming he was given the ol’ Original Round Tender, which for him (being undrafted) meant we received no draft pick compensation in return. Again, he would not be the last of the kicker scraps the Bills took off our hands.

Josh Brown was the third kicker the Seahawks ever drafted, in the 7th round in 2003.  He was pretty great, with a big leg, and had a bunch of huge kicks with the Seahawks in his 5 seasons here (including a very respectable 13/22 from 50+).  In 2008, he would go on to sign with the St. Louis Rams and was – at the time – the highest paid kicker of all time.  After that, he would play for the Giants and get in trouble for domestic abuse, which ultimately ended his NFL career.

Olindo Mare was a veteran free agent, signed by the Seahawks in March of 2008, after many splendid years with the Dolphins and one crappy year with the Saints.  He was tremendous for the Seahawks, though his time here is probably best remembered for 2009, when Jim Mora Jr. (head coach for just the one year, before Pete Carroll came aboard) publicly ripped him for missing 2 field goals in a 6-point loss to the Bears.  Not for nothing, but those would be the two ONLY kicks he missed all season, which is insane.

Brandon Coutu was the fourth and final kicker the Seahawks have drafted to date, in the 2008 draft, as a 7th round pick.  He was brought in to compete with Mare in the pre-season, ultimately lost the competition, yet was rostered for the entire year for some reason.  He was never active for a single game in 2008, was waived in September of 2009 (ostensibly after losing yet another kicking competition with Mare), apparently disappeared off the face of the Earth for a while, then was re-signed in July of 2011 by the Seahawks, only to be released about a month later.  He would go on to play in the United Football League for a couple years, landed on a couple NFL practice squads, and ultimately played in only 1 NFL game for – YOU GUESSED IT – the Buffalo Bills, in 2011.  He missed his only career NFL field goal attempt, while making 3/3 extra points.

Steven Hauschka was claimed off of waivers in September of 2011 from the Denver Broncos.  He’d bounced around from Minnesota to Baltimore to Atlanta to Detroit to the Las Vegas Locomotives (of the aforementioned United Football League) to Denver over three years after being an undrafted rookie free agent in 2008.  Hauschka is currently the all-time franchise leader in field goal percentage for the Seahawks (non-Scott Hagler edition) at 88.8%.  But, in 2016, he missed a whopping 6 extra points, as well as 4 field goals (including a chip-shot in overtime in that notorious tie game in Arizona, as well as a blocked 45 yarder in that Christmas Eve loss to Arizona that kept us from getting the 2-seed in the NFC).  He was ultimately allowed to leave in free agency to the Buffalo Bills, to a contract the Seahawks were ill-equipped to match or beat given their salary cap issues.

In the 2012 playoffs, in the Wild Card game against the Redskins, on their ridiculously shitty field, Hauschka strained his calf and was forced to sit out the rest of the season.  Ryan Longwell was brought on before the game in Atlanta against the Falcons, after sitting out the entire 2012 regular season (his previous game was the regular season finale in 2011 with the Vikings).  Longwell never attempted a field goal against the Falcons, but made all 4 of his extra point attempts.  He would retire (again, presumably) following this game.

The Seahawks would rue the move to let Hauschka go, in 2017, as Blair Walsh was signed to a cheaper deal.  He was drafted by the Vikings in 2012, had a few great seasons for them, but ended up missing a chip-shot field goal against the Seahawks in the 2015 Wild Card round.  He had a terrible 2016 that resulted in his release in the middle of the season, before signing with the Seahawks.  In Seattle, he missed 8 field goals, including all 3 attempts in a 3-point loss to the Redskins; coming up a yard short at home against the Falcons two weeks later, which would have sent the game into overtime; one right before halftime in a 6-point loss to the Jags (which could’ve made things a lot different for the Seahawks in their 4th quarter comeback attempt); and finally a 48-yard game-winning attempt in the season finale that might have sent the Seahawks to the playoffs if Carolina had done their job and beaten the Falcons (or, you know, if the Seahawks had won any of those three previous games – including a potential tie-breaker against the very same Falcons – but that’s neither here nor there).

For the most part, the Seahawks have been pretty fortunate when it comes to kickers.  But, when they get saddled with a bad one, he’s usually REALLY bad.  You could argue from 1978-1999, and again from 2003-2016, the Seahawks had really steady kicking on their team.  So, here’s to Jason Myers (or whoever takes over in 2018) returning this franchise to its field goal kicking glory!

Myers, for what it’s worth, started his professional career in the Arena Football League in 2014.  He signed with the Jaguars in 2015, beating out Josh Scobee that pre-season.  He made 26/30 field goals in 2015, including 3/4 from 50+.  In 2016, he took a step back, hitting 27/34, but he still managed 7/12 from 50+.  In 2017, he played in 6 games with the Jags before being released.  He was 11/15 this past season, including 0/3 from 50+, and the final straw was in the Jags’ defeat to the Rams when he missed a couple of 54-yarders (right before halftime & right before the end of the game) in a 10-point defeat.  That seems a BIT strict, so here’s to hoping his confidence wasn’t totally shattered by the experience.