The Seattle Seahawks signed kicker Blair Walsh to a one-year deal last week, and the details of his contract make it clear that Walsh will have to perform well to earn his spot on the 53-man roster.
The deal can net Walsh up to $1.1 million, but it contains no guaranteed money. Walsh is set to receive $800,000 in base salary in 2017 and can earn an additional $300,000 in bonuses.
The first bonus is for $150,000 and kicks in if Walsh is on the 53-man roster for the first game of the season.
Additionally, Walsh can earn $9,375 for each game he is on the 53-man roster.
This is a low-risk deal for the Seahawks. Steven Hauschka is scheduled to be a free agent, and the Walsh signing suggests that Seattle is preparing for Hauschka to sign elsewhere. But it does not mean that the Seahawks are sold on Walsh being their kicker in 2017.
They will almost certainly bring in a rookie kicker to compete with him in the spring. And if a rookie performs well, he will be a less expensive option than Walsh.
The Seahawks don’t want to go into next season with a question mark at kicker, but Hauschka will likely want to be paid like a top-10 player at his position, and that could mean a salary of at least $3 million per year. They’ll save money and cap space by going with Walsh or a rookie instead.
Walsh made the Pro Bowl in 2012 but struggled when the Minnesota Vikings played outdoors. In the wild-card round of the 2015 playoffs, he missed a potential game-winning field goal from 27 yards out against the Seahawks and was never able to bounce back last season. The Vikings released Walsh after he struggled through nine games.
The Seahawks will see if Walsh can find his footing this spring and summer. If he does, Walsh will be well-positioned to earn his money in 2017.