It would be difficult to dispute that Mason Crosby had a bad year kicking field goals for the Green Bay Packers. Among kickers with at least 15 attempts, his 75 percent average field goal percentage (FG%) was better than only six other kickers in the NFL. Towards the end of the season, Crosby collected “votes of confidence” from Packers coaches like Ted Thompson collects wide receivers (more than should be necessary).
Despite his less than eventful 2009, Crosby somehow triggered incentives in his contract that has doubled his salary for 2010, from $500K to $1M. As Don King loves to say, God Bless America! And from Mason’s perspective, God Bless his agent. What a great contract he negotiated. His client can have a bad year and still manage to earn a 100 percent raise.
I can only sit and wonder what those incentives were? Did he have to…
Finish higher than 30th in the league?
Hit 90 percent of his kicks into the practice net on the sideline?
Hit 95 percent of the footballs he swung his leg at?
Kick the ball with his right leg 95 percent of the time?
Never put his pants on backwards?
In all seriousness, 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 percent of his field goals. For a quick comparison, Ryan Longwell averaged 80 percent, 88 percent, 83 percent, and 87 percent in his first four years with the Packers.
I’ve always considered 80 percent to be the lowest field goal percentage an NFL team should tolerate. in my book, a FG percentage of less than 80 percent 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.
And yet, Crosby has his defenders. Mason Crosby will be fine, I hear over and over. He just has to work on the mental side, just has to straighten out the right hashmark issue, just needs a better holder, etc. My question for those people is, what evidence do you have that Mason Crosby is capable of being better than he has been? When has he shown that he can be an 85 percent kicker? NEVER, is the answer.
In the last three years, here’s how many NFL kickers had a FG percentage of 85 percent or higher:
Looking back at Crosby’s career as a place kicker, starting with his senior year in High School, here are Crosby’s FG percentages:.
HSY4 63.6 percent
CY1 77.8 percent
CY2 82.6 percent
CY3 75.0 percent
CY4 67.9 percent
NFLY1 79.5 percent
NFLY2 79.4 percent
NFLY3 75.0 percent
Sophomore year in college was the only time Crosby has EVER broken 80 percent. So tell me, Crosby defenders, what makes you think he is just an adjustment away from even being a “good” NFL kicker?
Even before his poor 2009, I questioned why there was no competition brought in during the 2009 training camp to push Crosby. As I wrote during the first week of camp, “I feel Crosby is being given an undeserved pass and there should be another kicker in camp to push him, if nothing else.”
Yes, a little competition can be a great motivator. Instead, the Packers just handed the job to a kicker that finished in the bottom 20 percent of NFL kickers his first two seasons.
So what will happen in 2010? While there are a few unrestricted free agent kickers that would be an improvement over Crosby (Shayne Graham and Jay Feely, for example), they will both command higher salaries than even Crosby’s 2010 overpaid $1M contract will provide. That, of course, makes it extremely unlikely that Ted Thompson will be calling their agents anytime soon.
Looking at the NFL draft, it’s not a strong year for placekickers. There aren’t any kickers that would warrant using anything other than a late sixth or seventh round pick. With Ted Thompson having used a sixth round pick just three years ago to select Crosby, I think it’s unlikely Ted Thompson would use another pick so soon on a kicker.
So, it appears a street free agent or an undrafted placekicker after the upcoming draft would be the most likely method Ted Thompson uses to bring in some competition for Crosby. But will he even do that?
When I called for some kicking competition for Crosby last year, some readers pointed out that most teams don’t want to waste one of those 83 valuable training camp roster spots on a second kicker.
Fair enough, I say, but do the Packers really need to bring 11 wide receivers to camp like they did last year? I’d would opt to go with 10 and bring someone in to give Crosby something to worry about. Maybe he’ll have the motivation to find that magic adjustment you Crosby defenders are waiting for. Imagine what he’ll make in incentives then…
Jersey Al Bracco is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com. You can find more of Jersey Al ’s articles on several sports web sites: NFL Touchdown , Packers Lounge , Packer Chatters , & Bleacher Report .