Josh Brown reportedly signs the biggest kicker contract ever. With the Rams.
Rams all-time leading scorer Wilkins retires; Brown signed as replacement
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams replaced retiring kicker Jeff Wilkins almost immediately, signing Seattle Seahawks kicker Josh Brown to a five-year deal late Friday night.
Wilkins, the St. Louis Rams' career leading scorer and the best active long-range kicker in the NFL, announced his retirement Friday after 14 seasons. Shortly afterward, Brown was on the move.
Jeff Wilkins, K
St. Louis Rams
80.8 FG pct.*
371 cons. PAT*
*Rams franchise leader
Brown's agent, Rob Roche, confirmed his client's agreement with St. Louis early Saturday in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Brown, who spent the last five seasons with Seattle, was seventh in the league in scoring in 2007 with a career-high 127 points, including 28 of 34 field goals. In 2006, Brown kicked a pair of field goals to defeat the Rams. He was a top priority for the Seahawks to re-sign last month and Seattle was believed to have offered him $14 million to stay.
Apparently the Rams gave him more, reportedly including a $4 million signing bonus. That would be the league's largest for a kicker.
Wilkins' departure leaves the Rams with three players from their Super Bowl victory in 2000: offensive tackle Orlando Pace, wide receiver Torry Holt and defensive end Leonard Little.
Isaac Bruce, who caught a touchdown pass in that game, was released in a salary cap move on Thursday.
The 35-year-old Wilkins had 1,223 points and 265 field goals with the Rams, finding a home after playing one season for the Eagles and two for the 49ers. He also leads the franchise in field goal attempts (328) and a success rate of 80.8 percent.
"Throughout my 11 years with the Rams, everybody in the organization has been fantastic from top to bottom," Wilkins said. "But my retirement is the best for me, my family and the Rams."
Wilkins was so accurate, former coach Mike Martz nicknamed him "Money."
"Jeff has been one of the best kickers that I have ever seen," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "We will miss him here, but we also wish him well in retirement."
From 49 yards or longer, Wilkins was 39-for-50 for his career and 38-for-49 with the Rams. Among active kickers with 20 or more attempts, his 78 percent success rate from 49 yards or longer is the best in the NFL and his 25 field goals most in league history.
Wilkins hit a franchise-record 57-yard field goal in 1998 against the Falcons, and was perfect on 17 field goals in 2000, tying Tony Zendejas' franchise record for field goal percentage in a season.
He retires having hit 371 consecutive extra-point kicks, a franchise record and tied for the best in NFL history with Jason Elam (1993-2002).
Wilkins went to the Pro Bowl in 2003 after leading the NFL in scoring with 163 points, going 39-for-42 on field goal attempts that season. He's the only kicker in NFL history to make a field goal as time expired in the first half, second half and to end an overtime.
Brown's departure leaves the Seahawks in somewhat of a scramble for a key scorer. They have used most of their available money under the 2008 salary cap on placing their franchise-tag designation on Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant, signing free agent Mike Wahle to start at left guard, and re-signing right tackle Sean Locklear.
Denver's Elam is the most highly regarded kicker remaining on the free-agent market.