For $84 million guaranteed, touchdowns will be expected of new Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.
But chances are extremely good that not every purple possession in 2018 will result in six points. Someone needs to handle the three-pointers, not to mention the point-afters.
That someone will be Kai Forbath. Again.
The Vikings hadn’t closed the door on the free agent who’s kicked for them the past 1½ seasons. But they hadn’t exactly flung it open and embraced him, either — until Tuesday, when they kicked off the second wave of free agency by signing the 30-year-old kicker to a one-year deal. Terms were not disclosed.
As the biggest spenders in the first wave, the Vikings already had turned their attention to next month’s draft while permitting Forbath to test the market.
General Manager Rick Spielman hit the road this week for college pro days. With six months until the season opens and free agent kickers facing a buyers’ market, he didn’t need to worry about a kicker anytime soon. But the Vikings and Forbath settled on a deal before each side looked around any further.
The Vikings and Dolphins were the only NFL teams left without a signed kicker. Even Seattle, who has moved on from free agent and former Viking Blair Walsh, signed former Jaguars kicker Jason Myers to a futures contract back in January.
Atlanta’s Matt Bryant, Washington’s Dustin Hopkins, Tennessee’s Ryan Succop and Indianapolis’ ageless Adam Vinatieri re-signed with their teams. Pittsburgh put a second-round tender ($2.9 million) on 27-year-old Pro Bowl kicker Chris Boswell, while Oakland tendered Giorgio Tavecchio as an exclusive rights free agent after he filled in for Sebastian Janikowski and made 16 of 21 field-goal attempts and 33 of 34 PATs last season.
Meanwhile, Chandler Catanzaro went from the Jets to Tampa Bay. Caleb Surgis, the former Eagle, went to the Chargers. Cairo Santos went from the Bears to the Jets. And Cody Parkey went from the Dolphins to Chicago.
Parkey cashed in with the biggest free-agent deal for a kicker. He got a four-year, $15 million deal with $9 million guaranteed. He’ll count $2.25 million against the cap.
In Parkey’s one season in Miami, he tied Jay Feely’s franchise record for field-goal percentage. He made 21 of 23 attempts — including two late game-winners — for 91.3 percent.
That leaves Miami looking for a kicker for the sixth time since the start of the 2012 season. The pool of veteran free agents available to them includes Walsh, Nick Novak and Janikowski, who’s now 40 and hasn’t kicked since 2016.
The Vikings signed Forbath midway through the 2016 season when it became obvious Walsh couldn’t get his mind or his right leg straight in Minnesota. Forbath signed a two-year, $1.087 million deal and counted as only $775,000 against the cap last season.
Forbath brought some stability to the position by making all 15 field-goal attempts in 2016. But he’s also caused some consternation. He has missed eight PATs in 23 games as a Viking.
Last year, Forbath made 32 of 38 field-goal attempts, including six of nine from 50 yards and farther.
The Vikings had other options but chose not to wait for them to unfold. They could have looked to the draft. Or they could have searched for one of those promising young kickers who seem to appear out of nowhere, at least nowhere the general public is looking.
Last year, when the Eagles needed a kicker in Week 2, they signed rookie Jake Elliott off Cincinnati’s practice squad. Elliott, a 2017 fifth-round draft pick, went on to make a franchise-record 61-yarder while hitting 26 of 31 field-goal attempts for the Super Bowl champs.
Three weeks later, when the Chiefs needed a kicker, they turned to Carolina’s practice squad. Harrison Butker, a seventh-round pick last year, went on to make 38 of 42 field-goal attempts and all 28 PATs in 13 games.
But Spielman won’t have to go fishing for an unknown prospect. When his $84 million QB falls short of the end zone, he’ll have a known commodity taking care of the three-pointers.