Well, it isn’t like we didn’t see this one coming. The Minnesota Vikings have finally pulled the trigger on releasing kicker Blair Walsh. Adam Schefter and other sources have confirmed his release.
Vikings released K Blair Walsh, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 15, 2016
It’s an incredibly disappointing end to what seemed to be a promising Vikings career. Walsh had an amazing rookie year, making 35 of 38 field goals while setting the NFL record for most field goals of over 50 yards. Walsh made all ten of his attempts from 50 or more in 2012. His sophomore campaign in 2013 was excellent as well, missing only four of 30 attempts, but in 2014 Walsh started to struggle. His field goal percentage dipped under 75% and questions about his streaky kicking in college started to resurface.
In 2015 it seemed like things were getting better. Walsh made 34 of 39 field goal attempts and looked pretty dependable. The only anomaly seemed to be his four missed extra points after the NFL moved them back to 33 yards. The chip shots were no longer gimmes.
Of course we didn’t know how prescient those missed points after were until the playoff game against the Seahawks. After generating all nine points the Vikings scored in the game, he missed the potential game-winning 27-yard field goal.
After the initial shock and vitriol wore off, the outpouring of support for Walsh was remarkable. Walsh famously visited a first grade class that was especially kind to him after the playoff loss. Most Vikings fans were upset about the loss but they really felt bad for their kicker. Walsh obviously had taken the loss hard and fans rooted for him to rebound and redeem himself in 2016.
The feelings of empathy may still there for some Vikings fans, but the patience had certainly run out. Walsh has already missed four extra points this year along with four field goal attempts. He was largely responsible for the overtime loss to the Lions two weeks ago, which included a shanked extra point and a late kickoff attempt gone awry that allowed Detroit enough time to tie the game late. After yet another missed extra point on Sunday in Washington, enough was finally enough.
The Vikings’ reluctance to releasing Walsh before this week was likely tied into his contract. Walsh was signed to a 4-year, $13 million extension before last season. According to Spotrac the Vikings will have $3.45 million of dead cap money from his release this year alone.
Will releasing Walsh magically cure everything that has gone wrong for the Vikings over the past four weeks? Of course not. But the situation had become untenable and moving on was probably the best for both parties. Walsh certainly still has the ability to be an excellent NFL kicker, but whatever was haunting him in Minnesota didn’t seem to be getting any better.
Stay tuned for news on who will be set to replace Walsh as Vikings kicker on Sunday against the Cardinals.