Earlier this month, Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby was given a 100 percent raise, something we learned from our friend Jersey Al.
Somehow Crosby triggered incentives in his contract that doubled his salary from $500,000 to $1 million, despite being one of the worst regular kickers in the NFL in 2009.
Crosby made a career-worst 75 percent of his field goals in 2009. That ranks him 25th in the league among players with 10 or more attempts. More importantly, Crosby was a miserable 4-for-7 (57 percent) on field goals from 40-49 yards and an even worse 2-for-6 (33 percent) on field goals from 50-plus yards.
So what Crosby did to get a salary bump — other than have a really good agent — is beyond me. What’s interesting, though, is 2009 was the worst year in a pretty bad career, as Al points out.
… when compared to the rest of the kickers in the league, Crosby is in the lower 20th percentile. In his three years with the Packers, he has never made more than 79.5% of his field goals. For a quick comparison, Ryan Longwell averaged 80%, 88%, 83% and 87% in his first four years with the Packers.
I’ve always considered 80% to be the lowest field goal percentage an NFL team should tolerate. In my book, a FG% of less than 80% is like a batting average below .250 in baseball. Anyone can have a bad year, but three years in a row makes a bad career.
To be fair, Crosby’s first two seasons weren’t terrible. Both were right on the cusp of the 80 percent mark, with Crosby hitting 79.5 percent of his kicks in 2007 and 79.4 percent in 2008. Of course, Crosby also showed signs of future failures in 2008 when what would have been a game-winning 38-yard kick was blocked at Chicago — a game the Bears won in overtime. Crosby’s percentages in those years ranked Crosby only 24th and 27th in the league, respectively.
What’s confusing is the Packers have more or less handed Crosby the kicking job since he was drafted. In 2006, Dave Rayner hit 74.3 percent of his field goals in his first year with the Packers. Apparently, that wasn’t good enough in general manager Ted Thompson’s eyes, so he drafted Crosby.
Crosby beat out Rayner in a training camp “competition” even though their numbers were almost identical in the preseason.
In 2008, the Packers didn’t supply Crosby with any real competition and in 2009, they didn’t bring anyone to training camp to compete.
You have to wonder why Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy are protecting Crosby. Are they attached to him because he’s their guy? Are they attached to him because they don’t want to look like fools for using a draft pick on a kicker that didn’t pan out? Does Crosby have the dirt on Ted and Mike’s illicit late-night office romance?
There are certainly viable kickers on the market this offseason, but the Packers aren’t expected to sign any outside free agents, as usual. So, that leaves the team with three options at kicker – draft someone who can compete and possibly beat out Crosby, sign some street free agent scab so it appears Crosby has competition or nothing.
To this point, the team has given no indication there will be any competition for Crosby, so expect things to remain status quo. Obviously, the kicking game isn’t important to winning in the NFL, as the mastermind Ted Thompson has demonstrated to us by his historic bungling of the punting situation and by ignoring Crosby’s career-long mediocrity.
And hell, maybe if you’re just bad enough — but not the worst, remember — the Packers might even give you a 100 percent raise!