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The Minnesota Vikings are finally cutting the cord on struggling kicker Blair Walsh.
The Vikings have released Walsh after another tough game, which ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported and the team confirmed the news shortly thereafter. The fact that head coach Mike Zimmer was non-committal on Walsh and that the team had worked out a half-dozen kicker the past few weeks were signs that they were ready to move on.
Walsh missed his fourth extra-point attempt of the season in Sunday’s 26-20 loss to the Washington Redskins, which was their fourth loss in a row since the bye. On the season, he made 12 of 16 field-goal attempts (with only one miss from beyond 50 yards) and 15 of 19 extra-point attempts, the latter being the worst conversion rate among kickers with at least five attempts.
After missing two field-goal tries and one extra point in the opener, Walsh mostly had gotten back on track until the past two games, which forced the Vikings’ hand on making a move. The Vikings worked out veteran kickers Kai Forbath, Randy Bullock, Zach Hocker and Travis Coons, plus rookies Marshall Koehn and Aldrick Rosas. The team hoped the workouts last week would motivate Walsh, but it didn’t prevent him from struggling again Sunday.
It appears that Forbath won the battle. He combined to make 10 of 15 field-goal attempts and 34 of 35 extra-point tries for the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints last season, and was cut by the Saints when they signed Will Lutz.
As a rookie in 2012, Walsh made the Pro Bowl with an incredible season in which he made 35 of 38 field-goal tries — including an NFL record 10-of-10 from 50 yards and longer.
He signed a four-year contract extension with the Vikings in 2015 and twice led the NFL in field goals made in his first four seasons. His most damaging miss came on a 27-yard try in the 10-9 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks in January in sub-zero temperatures, despite making his first three attempts of the game from 22, 43, and 47 yards.
The Vikings rallied around Walsh and came to his defense after the playoff miss. But with his latest struggles, they could do that no more.
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