The Philadelphia Eagles never officially announced why they let kicker David Akers walk in the 2011 offseason.
It could have been his age (36). It could have been his pair of missed field goals in the playoff loss against the Green Bay Packers. Or it could have been the awkward moment after the game when it was revealed that Akers’ daughter had briefly experienced a cancer scare.
Whatever it was, it was enough for the Eagles to draft Nebraska kicker Alex Henery in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft. Henery was the most accurate kicker in NCAA football history and it was obvious that the 23-year old was the future kicker for the franchise.
Yeah, the Eagles offered Akers the transition tag. But that doesn’t really count as trying because they knew he wouldn’t accept the deal.
So Akers became a free agent and ended up signing a three-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers.
While Henery has had a good season for the Eagles, making 19 of 22 field goals and all 34 extra point attempts, he missed a pair of 30-plus yard field goals in an eventual 24-23 loss in week four. Just one of those kicks would have won the game for the Eagles, who ironically fell victim to Akers and his 49ers.
As for Akers in 2011? Well he’s having the best season of his 14-year NFL career, which is pretty impressive for a man who already has five Pro Bowl selections.
He’s 36 for 42 on field goals this season, plus 27 for 27 on extra points. He leads the league with 135 points and is on pace for 166 points, which would be the fourth highest single-season total and the most ever by just a kicker. (Minnesota Vikings kicker Gary Anderson holds the current record with 164, set in 1998.)
His 36 field goals put him on pace for 44, which would shatter Neil Rackers’ single-season record of 40 in 2005. All Akers needs is five more field goals in the last three games to set the record.
He’s also had a remarkable season with his distance kicking. He’s 6 of 7 on field goals of 50 or more yards, which is even more incredible considering his 5 for 14 total over the previous six seasons COMBINED.
Akers hasn’t been the main reason for the San Francisco 49ers’ success this season. Their incredible defense, which has yet to allow a rushing touchdown and has experienced the breakout season of linebacker Navorro Bowman, is the biggest reason why the team is 10-3 and the second seed in the NFC.
But Akers, however, is the player on his team having the most individual success. If he breaks Rackers’ single-season field goal record and Anderson’s single-season kicker points record, his 2011 campaign should rank as one of the greatest individual seasons by a kicker in league history.
I bet the Eagles wish they still had Akers kicking for them this season.