Top 5 Free Agent Kickers Green Bay Packers Should Consider for 2013
Top 5 Free Agent Kickers Green Bay Packers Should Consider
The Green Bay Packers (10-4) defeated the Chicago Bears (8-6) Sunday afternoon to win their second consecutive NFC North title. All seems to be well in Titletown with the exception of a reoccurring problem in the team’s field goal kicker. Should the Packers consider bringing in one of several free agent kickers to replace Mason Crosby?
The 28-year-old Crosby has converted 58.6 of his field goal attempts this season, which is the worst in the NFL among active kickers. Ironically, it comes just a year after he posted the best numbers of his career in which he went 24-for-28 during Green Bay’s amazing 15-1 regular season run.
Sunday proved Packers head coach Mike McCarthy clearly has lost all confidence in his kicker after Crosby badly missed a 43-yard attempt in the second quarter. It has gotten to the point where McCarthy trusts quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ arm more than Crosby’s foot. It worked out well against Chicago as Green Bay converted both fourth down attempts, but this is something the team cannot rely upon during the postseason.
Fans around the world assumed the Packers would be quick to bring in a new kicker considering the team has officially clinched a postseason berth. However, McCarthy has something else in mind.
“We’re not changing our kicker, so you can write that down right now,” McCarthy said. “He’s our guy. He needs to make those kicks. He knows that. We’re at that time of year.”
It is understandable why McCarthy wants to stay with Crosby instead of bringing in someone who has not seen any in-game action this year. On the other hand, if Crosby does not make the necessary kicks over the next few weeks it could spell trouble. Not to mention, if a missed field goal becomes the difference between the Packers going to the Super Bowl or going home McCarthy is not going to look too bright in his decision.
The following slides are five free agent kickers the Packers should consider bringing in for a tryout this week.
#5 Ryan Longwell
Ryan Longwell played for the Packers from 1997-2005, in which he was very successful with the exception of two poor seasons. Longwell left Green Bay as the all-time leading scorer with 1,054 points and converted the most field goals in franchise history with 226. He also kicked a 54-yard field goal, which is the third-longest in Packers history. Longwell signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2006 where he had a tremendous amount of success. However, the team parted ways with him after the 2011 season.
Longwell is currently retired from the game of football but the 38-year-old could certainly make a comeback if the situation was right. Many fans questioned on Twitter after Sunday’s victory if Longwell would return to the Packers. Personally, I believe there are several better options, especially after he publicly dissed the city of Green Bay on more than one occasion.
#4 Justin Medlock
Justin Medlock played two seasons in the NFL, one with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2007 and the other with the Carolina Panthers this year. Medlock has also spent time on practice squads for several other NFL teams and has played in the Canadian Football League. The 29-year-old went 7-for-10 with the Panthers this season, but was waived by the team on Nov. 20 after he missed field goals in three straight games. Medlock would not be a bad pickup for the Packers but there are better kickers with more experience available.
#3 John Kasay
John Kasay has spent 22 years in the NFL mostly with the Panthers. Kasay is unfortunately most known for his final kickoff in Super Bowl XXXVIII that went out of bounds and gave the New England Patriots great field position for their final drive to win the game. Kasay was released by the Panthers in the summer of 2011 and was signed by the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 30 of the same year after kicker Garrett Hartley injured himself in preseason. The Saints released Kasay during training camp before the 2012 season. The 43-year-old has been very consistent over the course of his career but the Packers would probably be better off sticking with Crosby at this point.
#2 Neil Rackers
Neil Rackers is someone I thought Green Bay was going to bring into camp earlier this season when Crosby first started to struggle. Rackers has averaged to make 89.4 percent of his field goals over the past four seasons but fell below his average last season when he made 84.2 percent with the Houston Texans. Houston did not bring Rackers back in 2012 in which the 36-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Washington Redskins. Unfortunately, he did not win the starting job and has been out of the league since then. Rackers does not have the leg Crosby has but he is certainly more consistent, which is something the team needs right now.
#1 Nate Kaeding
Nate Kaeding is Green Bay’s best bet and someone that the team should truly consider bringing in for a tryout before the playoffs begin. Kaeding spent all nine years of his career with the San Diego Chargers in which he was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team All-Pro in 2009. The 30-year-old Kaeding is currently the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history at 87 percent (180-of-207). He converted all seven of his field goal attempts this season with San Diego before he suffered a groin injury. The Chargers released him on Oct. 30 upon his return from injured reserve.
The Packers should definitely invite Kaeding to Green Bay this week and give him a proper tryout. If nothing else, it will bring out the competitive spirit in Crosby who then can hopefully get back on track. And if Kaeding puts on a better show then the Packers must consider signing him considering he is a very consistent and accurate kicker. Even though Kaeding has struggled in the postseason, his career percentage is still higher than Crosby’s is.