The Blair Walsh era is officially over in Minnesota.
The Vikings this morning waived the embattled kicker after he missed three kicks and failed to execute a key kickoff the past two weeks. The team has not yet announced a responding roster move, but USA Today reports his replacement will be former Redskins kicker Kai Forbath.
Forbath was one of six kickers to work out for the Vikings last Tuesday.
Walsh in 2012 was named a first-team All-Pro as a rookie and had another strong season in 2013. After a down year in 2014, the Vikings gave him a four-year, $14 million contract extension, and he seemed to be getting his career back on track before he missed a would-be game-winner from 27 yards in the 10-9 playoff loss to the Seahawks this past January.
The Vikings stood by Walsh after his infamous miss and tried to help him regain his confidence. But the 26-year-old never seemed to get it back.
His missed extra point and blocked field goal loomed large in the overtime loss to the Lions two games ago, putting him back on the hot seat. Coach Mike Zimmer, after confirming last Monday that the Vikings would look at alternatives last Tuesday, seemed ready to move on from Walsh.
“We’ve missed three extra points this year. We’ve missed several field goals. The way our games are being played, they’re probably going to come down to a lot of close games,” Zimmer said. “We have to look at all avenues as far as what gives us the best opportunity to win.”
The Vikings opted to not sign Forbath or the five other kickers, though, after that workout at Winter Park. Zimmer admitted later last week that he had “no idea” how Walsh would react to the building pressure.
Walsh reacted by missing another extra point in Sunday’s 26-20 loss to the Redskins. His four missed PATs are the most in the league in 2016.
Yesterday, as Walsh booted kicks alone in the indoor practice field at Winter Park during Zimmer’s weekly Monday press conference, the coach was noncommittal about Walsh’s status. After chatting with G.M. Rick Spielman, the Vikings decided that it was time to give him the boot.
Walsh made 12 of his 16 field-goal attempts this season and made only 15 of his 19 extra-point tries. He had only four clean games out of nine.
In five seasons with the Vikings, Walsh, a sixth-round pick in 2012, made 84.2 percent of his field-goal attempts and made the Pro Bowl in 2012.
Forbath has made 84.1 percent of his career field-goal tries in four NFL seasons with the Redskins then Saints. The Saints released the 29-year-old California native after the preseason and he has been a free agent since.