The NFL Draft is complete and only one kicker was taken among the 254 selections announced: Nebraska’s Alex Henery in the fourth round to the Philadelphia Eagles.
In a perfect world, that should set up nicely for the Packers.
Mason Crosby, the Packers’ kicker for the last four seasons, is a free agent, and while it may be likely he returns to Green Bay, the Packers simply can’t operate under such an assumption.
There’s the possibility that if he’s an unrestricted free agent, he spurns them for better offer. It wouldn’t be the first time that happened in the NFL.
So here sit the Packers: They didn’t even have to spend a draft choice on a kicker yet they could get the pick of the litter once undrafted free agency commences.
And it’s not as if Crosby has been one of the best kickers in the NFL over his first couple seasons. With a 78.1% field goal accuracy rate, he’s been below average. It makes sense the Packers would explore their options.
On the surface, it would seem like an ideal situation for a college kicker free to sign with any team he chooses––the Packers are the Super Bowl champions and their incumbent kicker is a free agent.
Why wouldn’t you want to sign with them? It sounds like an perfect-world scenario for some of the top-ranked kickers left after the draft like UCLA’s Kai Forbath, Oklahoma State’s Dan Bailey and LSU’s Josh Jasper.
But according to a recent interview with former Packers kicker Al Del Greco, a 14-year NFL veteran, for the upcoming Maple Street Press Packers Annual special teams preview, kickers aren’t exactly lining up to play in Green Bay.
“It’s going to be very difficult to get a guy, a free agent to come to Green Bay just because of the conditions of playing up there,” said Del Greco.
Now consider this: For the sake of argument, assume for a second the Packers want to re-sign Crosby even if they do sign an undrafted free agent. Let them battle for the job. May the best man win.
If the Packers sign another kicker, they may not have that luxury. Signing another kicker may give Crosby the motivation he needs to sign somewhere else.
And by going with a kicker other than Crosby, there’s always the risk that the Packers replace him with something even worse.
Del Greco actually thinks pretty highly of Crosby given the winter weather and tundra-like conditions of Lambeau Field he’s had to deal with.
“You throw in where he kicks, and I think that has a lot to do with why his percentage is what it is,” said Del Greco.
Of course, this could all be a moot point if a federal court makes it necessary the NFL plays under the 2010 rules of the collective bargaining agreement and Crosby is a restricted free agent.
But for the moment being, the situation at kicker is a little more complicated than meets the eye.