If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it was meant to be.
This endearing adage seems to be a favored philosophy of John Schneider. The Seahawks have been known to release talented players into NFL free agency, only to hook them years later for a second stint in Seattle.
It's happened to players like Marshawn Lynch, Luke Willson, and Michael Bennett, and it's happened multiple times during the 2020 offseason. This spring, the Seahawks re-signed defensive ends Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa in free agency, and recently-released center Justin Britt visited their facility this week. True to form as ever, they even re-signed former wide receiver Paul Richardson this past Saturday.
So when news broke that former Seahawks kicker Stephen Hauschka was cut by the Bills on Thursday, fan conversations swirled with speculation. Hypothetically, Schneider could bring back the 12-year veteran to compete with Seahawks kicker Jason Myers, who is ironically in his own second stint with the team.
It seems Hauschka was cut for financial considerations rather than athletic ones, as releasing the 35-year old freed up $2,175,000 in salary in 2020 and $1.5 million in cap space for the Bills. His play was consistent in 2019, making 22 of 28 field goal attempts and 30 of 32 extra point kicks last season. However, his increased age indicates a decrease in leg power, as he only made one out of five 50+ yard field goal attempts and landed touch backs on only 52 percent of his kickoffs. That being said, the free agent is a still-capable veteran who is already familiar with how the Seahawks do things— not to mention the fact he helped to bring the team to two Super Bowls.
Adding Hauschka to the roster for cheap has undeniable appeal, but there's still the question of where that would leave 2018 Pro Bowler Jason Myers. After Myers lost the starting job to Sebastian Janikowski before the 2018 season, he earned a starting position with the Jets. His seven field goal game against the Colts in Week 6 of that season broke a franchise record, won the game, and made him AFC Player of the Week.
Once Myers made the Pro Bowl and Janikowski retired, the Seahawks circled back to Myers, signing him to a four-year, $15.45 million contract in 2019. His regular season field goal stats are eerily close to Hauschka's - Myers made 23 out of 28 field goal attempts, but he did make 50 percent of 50-plus yard attempts, a significant step up from Hauschka's 20 percent success rate. He has an 83.9 percent success rate with field goals since joining the league in 2015, which is slightly lower than Hauschka's 85.7 percent of field goals made over 12 years in the NFL.
If it's just about money, it makes sense to at least invite the comparable Hauschka to Renton and have him compete with Myers for the position. However, cutting Myers would award $1.1 million in cap savings to the Seahawks, a team with $15 million in cap money to spare. If Hauschka was only getting a $2.3 million base salary this year, it wouldn't even cost much to sign him to a one-year deal, let alone a multi-year deal that could give the team more financial flexibility. Considering that Myers is one year into his $15 million deal, it makes a lot of sense to go with a less expensive version offering the same dependability.
But Hauschka's dependability could be short-lived: the typically accurate kicker is already struggling to make longer kicks, which puts the entire team at a disadvantage when it comes to defensive ball placement and those occasional game-winning kicks of 50 yards or longer. This is what makes Myers the ideal choice when thinking long-term, and Hauschka the smart choice when thinking about this year's cap spending.
While he's still kicking it in the league, it would be nice to see "Hausch Money" rejoin the team he earned a ring with - at the very least, it would be cool to see him get the opportunity to compete for his old job with the Seahawks, though the chances of such a scenario playing out seem unlikely with only one week of training camp remaining. Good kickers are always hard to come by, and wherever Hauschka ends up, he'll provide a steadying presence at the position.