It was going to be difficult for the Detroit Lions to replace Jason Hanson with a reliable and accurate kicker after he announced his retirement before last season. Six-time Pro Bowler David Akers signed with the team after Hanson’s retirement and failed to live up to the expectations brought on by Hanson during his 21-year career with Detroit. Now, he finds himself looking for a job with another team in 2014.
Akers finished the year by making 19 of his 24 attempted field goals, equaling a total percentage of 79.2 which was hid third worst season since 2007. He was 69 percent in 2012 with the San Francisco 49ers and 72.7 percent in 2007 with the Philadelphia Eagles.
GM Martin Mayhew can contact and sign other free agent kickers this offseason, but they have already signed John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio to future contracts to compete for the starting job. Potter has been in the NFL for two years, spending time with the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins. He appeared in three games for the Redskins, finishing 3-for-4 on the season. Tavecchio was waived by the Green Bay Packers after competing with Mason Crosby for the job and also tried out for the Cleveland Browns over Labor Day.
Along with Akers, the Lions also announced that veteran safety John Wendling, linebacker Rocky McIntosh, defensive end Israel Idonije and offensive lineman Dylan Gandy will not be returning to the team next season.
Wendling spent most of his career with the Lions as a reliable special teams player. He was named a captain for the past two years and was a special teams Pro Bowl alternate in 2010 for his consistent effort. Wendling was regarded as the most important players on the Lions special teams unit, which makes it surprising that he won’t be returning for a fifth year with Detroit.
Mayhew did announce that the Lions have signed safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, who most likely could replace Wendling on the special teams units. Abdul-Quddus was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New Orleans Saints after being released by the team on Jan. 7. Appearing in 11 regular season games, he recorded 24 total tackles and one pass defended in 2013.