So, the long-awaited prophecy of Michael Vick receiving the Franchise Tag will finally be fulfilled today… But it won’t be the only designation the team hands out. David Akers, the longest-tenured Eagles player, will be hit with the Franchise Tag’s lesser known cousin, the Transition Tag.
Now this may be a very unpopular stance – and may seem slightly outrageous to some Eagles fans, especially coming off a Pro Bowl season – but, why tag Akers?
Well, the Transition Tag protects the team by allowing them to match any offer Akers receives in Free Agency – you know, if that even happens. As it stands now, Free Agency may not occur until the summer (at the earliest) or not at all (the worst case scenario), so it would appear that the Eagles are currently hedging their bets. It’s been highly-publicized that Akers turned down a multi-year contract offer in December because he felt the team was low-balling him(*), and that contract negotiations – particularly after his two big misses in the playoffs and the fallout from the drama with Reid – are headed nowhere fast.
(*)Really?! The Eagles would never do that…
The Transition Tag will pay Akers the average of the top-ten paid Kickers and Punters for one season – a totally fair contract for a guy that has averaged the 12th best Field Goal percentage over the last four years. Sure, 2010 was one of Akers’ best seasons, but he’s never really been the same since his groin injury during the 2005 season. In fact, Akers completely dropped off as a reliable Kicker from 2005 to 2007 – when he averaged a 75% conversion rate, putting him in the bottom third of NFL Kickers – and hasn’t been reliable from 40-yards and beyond since.
In both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, 20 Kickers attempted at least 28 Field Goals. Akers ranked 6th and 7th in total FG percentage among them (86.5% and 84.2%, respectively) and was perfect on attempts from inside the 29-yard line and on extra points. Not bad.
But what about Field Goals from 40-yards or more? Over the past two seasons, Akers has made only 22 out of 30 Field Goals from 40-yards out, a 73% success rate. From 50-yards or more? Two out of six… a 33% rate.
Sure, he’s the most consistent Kicker the Eagles have had in my lifetime (and probably your’s)… But at what point does the team start exploring other options?
Just throwing it out there. I’m not saying it’s time to Fire The Kicker. Yet.