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It's Time to Pay David Akers

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    David Akers just keeps on kicking but will he be kicking for the Eagles.

    All the chatter on talk radio this week has been about the Eagles needing to make sure that free-agent-to-be Michael Vick stays put and whether or not the Eagles will show him the love or show him the door when his contract expires after the season.

    Of course if Vick remains healthy and playing like he has when healthy this season he could be looking for some big bucks and possibly another home. The Eagles gave Vick a second chance but don't expect him to give them a second look if another franchise shows No. 7 the money.

    But lost amongst all this talk about if now is the time for the Birds to bring back Vick is the fact that one of the most important pieces of the Eagles machinery -- unarguably the best Eagles player ever at his position -- is everyday getting closer to a day where he won’t be donning Eagles green.

    David Akers, the sure-footed kicker who is the most-tenured athlete in all of Philadelphia sports, is also a free-agent-to-be.

    I know what you’re thinking. He’s just a kicker -- who cares?

    But it does matter because of the leadership Akers brings to a young team and the fact that he is still a highly accurate kicker.

    He has spent 12 seasons in Eagles green and has four times represented the NFC in the Pro Bowl including last season. The “seasoned veteran” might have looked like he lost a step after missing three field goals in a game earlier this season but besides that game he is an impressive 15 for 16 on field goal attempts.

    Yet despite being the most prolific scorer in team history, making nearly 82 percent of his field goal attempts and continuing to bomb the ball on kickoffs, the Birds are letting him head towards future uncertainty.

    Akers is making $1.65 million this season -- far less than the about $4 million per year Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski and $3 million per Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski make.

    So after more than a decade the 35-year-old Akers could be looking for a high-priced “final” paycheck. But if you believe what he says than you would think he would be willing to take a little less to stay in Philly.

    “I’ve been here almost a third of my life,” Akers told me during Training Camp. “Hopefully I can stay a little bit longer. But we’ll just see how the season plays out. It’s been a wonderful ride so far.”

    The fans have made that ride so much more fun for Akers.

    “The guys that are banging out there -- they’re getting knocked down and they’re beat up and somebody’s cheering their name, ‘oh that was a great hit,’” Akers said. “All of a sudden that adrenaline pumps up a little bit more and they’re able to continue on.”

    So why aren’t the Eagles holding one of those post-practice press conferences to announce that a fan favorite -- a pillar of the community on and off the field -- should be sticking around for a little while?

    Maybe it’s because at 35 they think Akers best days are behind him. He hasn’t made a 50-plus yard field goal since last November so maybe he is losing some leg.

    But the Birds brass being concerned over his durability and age is doubtful. Over 12 seasons in Eagles green, Green Akers has missed just four games (during the franchise’s LOST 2005 season). Add the fact that guys like Morten Andersen, Gary Anderson and George Blanda kicked well into their 40s, and you would be hard pressed to see age as a factor.

    Likely the Birds just want to see if Akers continues to shine as the season goes on --hoping that his loyalty to the community and area will keep him in Eagles green. Or, like so many others (see Brian Dawkins, Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook) the Birds believe that Akers is over the hill and not coming back -- even if he wants to.

    Time will tell but I would love to see the Eagles do the right thing, right now -- ink Akers to a deal during the season to ensure that he keeps kicking for the Birds and not booming balls for an opponent.