By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page

Stephen Hauschka – Signed by the Bills in 2017

There was an opening for a kicker at New Era Field for the 2017. Dan Carpenter had only converted on 76 percent of his field goals the year before, and he missed five extra points. Help was needed.

Luckily, there was one available. Stephen Hauschka had just finished a run of success with the Seattle Seahawks. During the previous six seasons, Hauschka had hit on 88.8 percent of his field goal attempts, including 15 of 22 from at least 50 yards. But the Seahawks wanted someone who could elevate kicks in the air more. Hauschka’s line drive approach was just fine with the Bills, who wanted the ball to be powered through the Orchard Park winds. The cost for three years of kicking was a bit under $9 million.

Hauschka was as good as advertised in 2017, converting on 87.9 percent of his field goal tries. He was 7 of 9 past 50 yards, and had some clutch moments along the way. But Hauschka’s kicking slipped a little in 2018 to 78.6 percent, and the number stayed exactly the same in 2019. Hauschka signed a two-year contract extension for a total of $8 million before the 2019 season. He’ll receive a challenge in training camp this summer.

Here’s the kicker at his best, in the playoffs:

(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of the local sports scene for the last 40 years. He worked for WEBR Radio, the Buffalo Sabres' public relations department and The Buffalo News during that time. In that time he covered virtually every aspect of the area's sports world, from high schools to the Bills and Sabres and everything in between. Along the way, Budd served as a play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, an analyst for the Stallions, and a talk-show host. He won the National Lacrosse League's Tom Borrelli Award as the media personality of the year in 2011, and was a finalist for that same award in 2017. Budd's seventh and eighth books, one on the Transcontinental Railroad and the other about Ichiro Suzuki, are scheduled to be released in the fall.

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