The attempt to turn around the Packers woeful special teams unit has been swift. Start with Rich Bisiaccia, the beloved coordinator that rallied the Raiders to the postseason. Then swap punter Corey Bojorquez for Pat O’Donnell. Green Bay also brought in competition for long snapper Steven Wirtel, who himself was only signed in November. The lone mainstay has been Mason Crosby. 2021 marked his 15th season in Green Bay – the longest tenured Packer not named Aaron Rodgers. But he is also coming off one of his worst seasons as a pro, and the Packers have brought in a carousel of kickers in the last year. This strikes the question if Crosby’s time in Green Bay could be coming to a close.
Crosby made only 73% of his kicks a season ago, the second lowest mark of his career (trailing only his dreadful 2012 season). There were clearly some issues with the kicking operation as a whole, but his inconsistencies continued throughout the season. The Packers thought enough of it to keep JJ Molson on the practice squad throughout the year, and often “protected” him from potentially being poached. The Packers cut Molson, and also kicker Dominik Eberle this offseason. But last week the claimed Gabe Brkic from the Vikings.
Brkic is perhaps the best competition for Crosby yet. He was a finalist for the Lou Groza award in 2021, and tied for the national lead in kicks over 50 yards. He struggled throughout the spring program with Minnesota, but he clearly has the best pedigree for any other kicker Green Bay has brought in.
The other piece to the puzzle for Crosby is his contract. The Packers restructured his deal last year to lower his salary cap hit for 2021, but he will count for $4.7 million in 2022. The Packers could save $3.4 million by cutting Crosby post June 1st. Now, if Crosby can return to form from 2019 or 2020, he is well worth that. As Super Bowl contenders, the Packers likely will want to hang on to Crosby who has delivered clutch moments throughout his career. But if he continues to struggle throughout camp, the Packers will have to seriously consider making a change, whether it’s Brkic or someone else.
Jared is a rogue Packers fan from a Steelers family and an overall football junkie, including playing 4 years at Ithaca College. You can follow him on twitter at @JPrugar.