Mason Crosby is arguably the greatest kicker in Green Bay Packers history, and the team ensured his long-term future would remain at Lambeau Field, re-signing him on Wednesday, per a team announcement.
On Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the contract is a four-year deal.
The 31-year-old is coming off another strong season. He connected on 24 of his 28 field-goal attempts and had an 80 percent success rate from 50-plus yards. As the Packers noted in February, Crosby also passed Ryan Longwell as the team's career leader in points:
Since entering the league in 2007, Crosby has been one of the NFL's most consistent kickers. According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, his 236 made field goals put him second to only the New England Patriots' Stephen Gostkowski in that span.
In February, Packers special teams coach Ron Zook praised Crosby's ability to react and adapt, per ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky:
But I think what Mason has done, in talking to him [shortly after the season], I said 'Whatever you did in preparation last year, you need to do exactly the same thing.' Because when he does have an issue -- a little issue, and he really didn't have issues -- but we'll talk about and he'll tell me 'This is what happened, this is what happened.' He knows exactly what happened. He knows exactly what he needs to do to fix it and he does it, and I think that's the thing. He's got a lot of confidence, and he knows he can do what he has to do.
To a certain extent, the kicker position is the most interchangeable and unpredictable in the NFL. Then-Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater led the league in field-goal percentage (96.2 percent) in 2013 but was out of a job less than a year later after his return from a four-game suspension.
Kickers are also a bit like closers in baseball in that one or two emerge from nowhere to post strong numbers.
Playing for his third team in as many seasons, the Washington Redskins' Dustin Hopkins connected on 89.3 percent of his field-goal attempts last year, ninth-best in the league. The Pittsburgh Steelers picked up Chris Boswell off the proverbial scrap heap, and in 12 games, he made 29 field goals (tied for 10th) at a 90.6 percent success rate (seventh).
All of that makes kickers such as Crosby even more valuable. The Packers know exactly what to expect of him each and every season, because his performance has largely remained constant from year to year—2012 excluded.
According to Spotrac, Green Bay has roughly $23.6 million available this offseason, which allows the team to re-sign Crosby and still have enough money left over to address some weaknesses in the squad.
Losing Crosby wouldn't have radically altered the Packers' trajectory for the 2016 season and beyond. But he's one of the most senior members of the team, and the luxury of having Crosby will prove invaluable at critical junctures in the upcoming years.