Mark Craig: Vikings playing the odds by cutting ties with Longwell
- May 8, 2012 - 10:51 PM
By the end of the 2005 season, Adam Vinatieri had already established what should end up being a Hall of Fame career as a placekicker. Vinatieri ranked fifth in NFL history in career field goal accuracy and clearly wasn't finished as a player. But the Patriots drafted a kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, in the fourth round in 2006. The transition from old to young was made. Today, Gostkowski is one of the league's best kickers with a career mark of 84.4 percent. From 1999 to 2010, David Akers was a five-time Pro Bowler who made the league's All-Decade team despite having to kick outdoors in Philadelphia.
He clearly wasn't done as a player, but the Eagles drafted Alex Henery out of Nebraska in the fourth round. The transition from old to young was made. Akers went on to San Francisco. Henery made 24 of 27 field goal attempts to set the NFL record for field goal accuracy by a rookie (88.9). If Vinatieri and Akers can be replaced by draft picks on contending teams, we shouldn't be so shocked that Ryan Longwell was released to make room for sixth-round draft pick Blair Walsh on a Vikings team that's rebuilding after a 3-13 season.
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