Green Bay Packers’ kicker Mason Crosby had a terrible year in 2009 and the team was reluctant to make a change down the stretch, with good reason. There wasn’t a kicker on the market who was any better.
Crosby made a career-worst 75 percent of his field goals. 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.
It’s now the offseason and Crosby no longer has the luxury of a bare cupboard in the kicker market. So, the Packers have to ask themselves if there’s a better option available.
The Cincinnati Bengals reportedly will not offer Shayne Graham a contract. Graham was designated the Bengals franchise player prior to the 2009 season and made 82 percent of his kicks last season. Over the course of his career, Graham has made 85 percent of his kicks.
Then you have the Indianapolis Colts, who carried both Matt Stover and Adam Vinatieri on their roster last season because Vinatieri was injured early in the year. The Colts will have to part ways with one of the two.
Certainly, both kickers are ancient compared to Crosby, who is 25. Stover is 42 and Vinatieri is 37, but both kicked better than Crosby last season and have done so over the course of their careers.
Stover hit 81 percent of his field goals and has hit 83 percent in his career. While it’s unlikly the Packers will look at a 42-year-old kicker, Vinatieri could be another story, if he’s released.
Before Vinatieri signed as a free agent with the Colts in 2006, the Packers made a strong push for him, so Packers general manager Ted Thompson obviously thought highly of him at one point. Vinatieri hit a mediocre 77 percent of his kicks last season, but has hit 82 percent over his career.
There will be a kicker on the market who’s better than Crosby, who has hit only 78 percent of his career field goal tries. The question is whether the Packers want to make a change or whether they plan on sticking by Crosby another year.
How many wins is a better kicker worth? One or two by my estimation.
The real question is, can the Packers afford not to make an upgrade?