Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst spoke at the 2023 NFL Combine yesterday, sharing a bit of interesting news. He shared that he believes Jordan Love can be a starter, which means nothing considering he was the one who mindlessly traded up to draft him in the first round. Gutekunst also shared that he has not spoken to Aaron Rodgers, so that’s great. Another interesting bit of news was about long-time kicker Mason Crosby.
Gutekunst said the leg strength of Crosby last season was impacted by an offseason knee procedure. Signs are pointing to the Green Bay Packers being interested in bringing back the franchise’s scoring leader. However, truthfully, the Packers shouldn’t re-sign Mason Crosby in NFL Free Agency.
Packers Shouldn’t Re-Sign Mason Crosby in NFL Free Agency
Don’t get me wrong, I love Mason Crosby. Drafted in 2007, Crosby has been a fantastic Packer on and off the field for 16 seasons. He has displayed great leadership, been outstanding for locker room chemistry, and he has won many games. Hell, Crosby has even made a number of big hits on kickoff, which has always been fun to cheer on. However, turning 39 before the start of next season, it’s time for Mason Crosby to retire.
As far as field goals go, it was clear that Crosby didn’t have as much leg strength last season as a few years ago. Still, he made 25/29 attempts with a miraculous 56-yard long. Crosby did miss two PATs, which was the same as the year prior. As Gute said, Crosby did have a knee procedure, and he also was banged up, which impacted his kicking. At 39 next season, he isn’t going to be more durable.
Packers Kickoff Team Issues
However, the main reason to not re-sign Crosby is the Packers’ kickoff philosophy. For whatever reason, Green Bay didn’t sign a punter that had experience kicking off last season despite knowing Crosby’s age and deteriorating leg. Instead, they let the elder statesman limp onto the field and struggle.
Last season, just 22.5% of the Green Bay Packers‘ kickoffs were touchbacks, and Crosby alone only had a touchback on 20.3% of his kickoffs. This is by far the worst in the NFL, with the next-lowest team (Pittsburgh Steelers) at 33.77%, while the New York Jets led the league with nearly 80% touchbacks.
As noted on our podcast Lombardi Sweep prior to last season, Mason Crosby’s touchback percentage has been on the decline for a while. Beginning in 2019, Crosby’s kickoffs resulted in a touchback percentage of 62%, 58.5%, 45.7%, then 20.3% of the time last year. Paired with a lack of touchbacks, the Packers also allowed the fourth-most average kick return yards (25.6), giving teams favorable field positions consistently, which puts our defense in poor positions.
Why the Packers Would Re-Sign Mason Crosby
Now, you see why the Green Bay Packers shouldn’t re-sign Mason Crosby in NFL Free Agency. Why would they bring him back?
Honestly, bringing back Crosby would point to something that multiple other moves are currently pointing to. I am talking about bringing back Aaron Rodgers as the starter once again. Crosby is one of Rodgers’ closest friends on the team and is someone he expressed interest in returning to the team.
If the Packers are rolling with Jordan Love as the starter, then clearly there aren’t Super Bowl aspirations. So, it would make more sense to start a new era at the kicking position as well, hoping to find steady play at kicker for the long term.
What do you think? Would you like to see Mason Crosby return for his 17th season for the Green Bay Packers, or do you think he should call it a career?