Less than a year after the Seahawks cut Jason Myers, they made it a priority to get him back.
Myers spent the 2018 offseason, as well as training camp and the preseason, competing with Sebastian Janikowski for Seattle's kicking job, and after Janikowski won out, Myers found a home with the New York Jets where he would go on to earn Pro-Bowl honors.
So when Myers became a free agent this offseason, the Seahawks were quick to pounce.
"The way I looked at it, when I evaluate college kickers, I had Jason Myers at the top of my board, then I said, 'OK, there's who else we would like, but he would be the one we'd like No. 1,'" Seahawks special teams coordinator Brian Schneider said.
Myers was quick to point out that he got a fair shot competing for the job last year, and Schneider said Janikowski, who announced his retirement earlier this offseason, won a competition in which everything was graded from organized team activities through preseason games. And few people could have expected last summer that Myers, who was released by the Jaguars midway through the 2017 season, would go on to have a Pro-Bowl season after the Seahawks let him go. Even so, both Myers and the team that released him knew there was potential for success in 2018 after the way he performed in training camp.
"Jason did get beat out, I think he'd be the first one to tell you that," Schneider said. "But I think that made him even better. The year he had last year, and even the situation where he went to the Jets—he went there on Tuesday and was kicking on Sunday—I think that all prepared him for where he is today. And he has been great to have back."
Myers called getting released then signed by the Jets a fresh start, and said the adversity he faced in 2017 ultimately helped him get better.
"What I went through two years ago I took it as more of a learning than trying to get down on myself for getting let go in Jacksonville," he said. "So I kind of took that as a positive. I knew I was hitting the ball well last year out here, and things kind of kept clicking in New York."
In signing Myers to a multi-year contract, the Seahawks hope to find some stability at kicker after going from Steven Hauschka in 2016 to Blair Walsh in 2017 to Janikowski last year, but finding consistency at kicker is just one of the special teams topics Schneider is focused on as he prepares for 2019.
The Seahawks want to be more consistent throughout the season on special teams.
Asked to assess the play of Seattle's special team's units, Schneider noted that while the Seahawks had a very good stretch of special teams play during the middle of the season, they started a bit slowly, then trailed off in their play to close out the year. He hopes to see that change this year.
"Really good in the middle," he said when asked to assess Seattle's 2018 special teams performance. "We started a little bit slower, then we had about eight games there where I think we were as good as anyone in the NFL. We were really helping our team with field position. What I always go back to when you watch us play on tape, the effort that was there was outstanding, phenomenal. Towards the end we had some issues, and it kind of showed up for different reasons. That's our whole mindset going in: to finish. Because right there about eight games, we were as good as we've been since I've been here, and we just need to continue to finish."
There are viable options at returner if the Seahawks want to decrease Tyler Lockett's workload.
Tyler Lockett represents something of a dilemma for Seahawks coaches in that he is the team's top receiver while also being an All-Pro returner. While Lockett has said on multiple occasions that he wants to do as much as coaches will allow, it is reasonable to wonder if he should handle fewer returns to maximize his potential on offense. The Seahawks used Rashaad Penny some on kick returns last year, J.D. McKissic has a good amount of return experience, and they have been looking at various other candidates in offseason workouts. Ultimately the decision on how Lockett is used will be made by head coach Pete Carroll, but Schneider knows he will have good options if Lockett is used less on returns this year.
"The great thing I enjoy is that we have a lot of guys who can do it," Schneider said. "David Moore looks fabulous out there returning punts. He had a great preseason last year. The No. 1 thing especially on a punt returner is you want to make sure you retain possession."
Schneider also noted that rookies Ugo Amadi, who returned punts at Oregon, and John Ursua have also looked good in return roles this offseason.
Michael Dickson should be even better in his second season.
Punter Michael Dickson earned first-team All-Pro and Pro-Bowl honors as a rookie, so if he were to be the same player in 2019 that he was a year ago, that wouldn't be bad for the Seahawks' special teams play. But based off what he has seen so far this spring, Schneider expects Dickson to be even better this year.
"I've seen the greatest growth of him from the end of the season to where he is now," Schneider said. "And he's just going to continue to get better. He has such a better understanding of what's happening now, and he's such a hard worker, and he's so smart in terms of how he does it. Where he was at last year at this time and where he is now, it's amazing. So he's going to continue to get better."
The rookie class should make a difference on special teams.
When the Seahawks wrapped up their 2019 draft, Carroll and general manager John Schneider noted that one theme of this year's class was that most of the players had significant special teams experience in college and should help the Seahawks upgrade in that phase of the game. And so far that is showing up on the field during offseason workouts.
"Everything we saw on tape," Schneider said. "The great thing about a lot of our rookies is that we were really able to evaluate them on tape as rookies. They all played in their senior year or throughout their college career. So as special teams coaches, we really had a good evaluation. A lot of times you project guys. You see them play on either side of the ball then you hope they can be good special teams players, but all these guys, we've seen it in college and it's showing up out here."
Photos from the Seattle Seahawks' ninth and final session of organized team activities held on Thursday, June 6 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.