Green Bay Packers: Potential Replacements for Struggling Mason Crosby
There was once a time when life was good for Mason Crosby. Being one of the highest paid players at his position in the NFL, on a championship contender and coming off a potential Pro Bowl season, the veteran kicker likely rode into the 2012 season as confident as ever.
Crosby's 2011 swagger carried over into the beginning of this year, as he knocked down his first five field goals, including a 54-yarder against division rival Bears.
After the first four weeks, releasing Crosby would have been considered an insane proposition: Why cut a young, yet experienced kicker with so much prior success?
It's amazing how quickly things can change in the NFL, isn't it?
After missing seven of his past 13 field goals, Crosby has lost the backing of the Packers fanbase, and more inconsistent play could put his future with Green Bay in jeopardy. While Mike McCarthy has created a strong front in support of Crosby, the Packers cannot afford to go into the playoffs with a kicker in a slump as severe as his.
While it's certainly up for debate whether Green Bay should stick with their frustrating kicker or search for another option, if Crosby continues to miss important kicks like he did against the Lions in Week 11, competition needs to be brought in for the playoff run.
If the Packers choose to part ways with there kicker, here are some capable players who they could bring in to stabilize their current fiasco at the position.
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
The Vikings drafted an outstanding young kicker in Blair Walsh this year and had no need to retain Ryan Longwell, but that doesn't mean the veteran kicker cannot play.
The former Packer has not only had an outstanding career, but has played well recently, nailing 10 of his last 11 kicks from 50 or more yards and making at least 83 percent of his kicks in five of the past six years.
While he's getting up there in age at 38, Longwell could serve as a short-term replacement for the Packers until Crosby sorts out his issues. He has a history of kicking at Lambeau (he played eight seasons with Green Bay and the division rival Vikings) and has been accurate for the most part throughout his career.
If if the kicking situation gets out of hand and the Packers release Crosby, Longwell would be the premium stop-gap solution as he could provide experience and stability to Green Bay's league worst kicking unit.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Can the Packers actually put their faith into a 44-year-old kicker who was cut by the Saints this year after losing the preseason kicking battle to Garrett Hartley? For the most part, history says yes.
Just look at the 2011 season, when the seemingly burnt out Kasay came into replace Hartley after he went down with a season-ending injury.
The veteran came off the streets and had a solid season with the Saints, nailing 82 percent of his kicks. He has been an accurate kicker throughout his 22-year career, and while he obviously would be a one-year solution, Kasay still kicks well from reasonable distances to warrant a contract.
Kasey would bring the Packers a kicker with playoff experience and a history of coming off the street cold and being successful.
J. Meric/Getty Images
Like the first two players on this list, Mare would simply be a short-term solution that could stabilize the Packers' kicking situation until next season. Hopefully Crosby doesn't get to the point where signing Olindo Mare would be necessary, but if his slump gets out of hand, he would be another option capable of filling in.
Mare was an average kicker at the beginning of his 16-year career, and it looked as though he would be out of work after an inconsistent stretch with the Dolphins.
Seattle, however, gave the kicker a chance, and he put together a stretch of three outstanding years between 2008 and 2010. He made 88 percent of his kicks in those seasons, and while his long was only 51 yards, the consistency Mare showed would be perfect for Green Bay.
If the Packers desperately need help later in the season, Mare has enough quality years to be worth a flyer.
Nate Kaeding would be an intriguing option for the Packers as he has played at a Pro Bowl level when healthy.
Not only has he been one of the more accurate kickers in the NFL since entering the league in 2004, Kaeding has a strong leg and has made multiple kicks of over 55 yards in his career.
However, despite his upside, Kaeding would be an extremely risky signing for the Packers because of his inability to stay on the field in recent years. He went out with an injury on the opening kickoff of the season, and was hurt yet again this year, prompting his release from the Chargers.
If he has recovered from the problems he was having earlier in the season and the Packers need him down the stretch, what option could be better? If his health checks out, the Packers could plug and play Kaeding at any point if Crosby continues his slide.