The Detroit Lions have signed former San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles kicker David Akers, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The move comes one day after Jason Hanson, the Lions' former kicker, announced his retirement.
It's a big change for Detroit, given that Hanson was with the Lions for 21 seasons, since the team drafted him in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft. He's been one of the most consistent kickers in NFL history, and the switch to Akers could be jarring, depending on which Akers shows up
In 2011, Akers broke several franchise and NFL records with the San Francisco 49ers. He set the record for most field goals made and most points made by a kicker in a single season. Going into 2012, he was the unquestioned starter. After what was arguably his best career year in 2011, Akers fell flat with what was definitely his worst.
He converted on just 69 percent of his field goal attempts in 2012 and that put him among the bottom kickers in the league. He was released by the 49ers this offseason, and they have since replaced him with Phil Dawson, considered the top kicker on the market.
The silver lining for this signing is that Akers has had quite a long career, mostly filled with success. There's also the fact that he was injured for much of 2012, and played through those injuries. Akers was adamant last season that he didn't entirely understand his struggles, so it's unclear to what extent the injury affected him. Either way, it's pretty clear the Lions are hoping the 2011 Akers shows up rather than last year's.