Over a two-week span, we at Acme Packing Company are breaking down the 2017 Green Bay Packers position-by-position. Today we conclude the analysis with a look at the Packers’ special teams units.
The 2017 Packers got contributions from plenty of new acquisitions on special teams, but the actual specialists saw one particularly notable addition as the team found a new punter and holder after the NFL Draft. His addition was a valuable one, especially given how often the Packers’ struggling offense forced him onto the field.
Here’s a look at the notable additions among the specialists.
How Acquired: Undrafted rookie free agent signing
Contract: Three years, $1.665 million
2017 Stats: 71 punts, 3,155 yards gross, 44.4 gross average, 41.6 net average, 2 touchbacks, 26 punts downed inside the 20 (26.8%)
The addition of Vogel to the special teams was arguably the biggest change to these units in the past few years. Vogel set a new Packers record for net punting average, breaking the previous high mark of 40.3 set by Tim Masthay in 2015. Vogel didn’t crack Masthay’s record of 45.6 yards gross, but net is the more critical number anyway.
In addition, Vogel succeeded in avoiding touchbacks marvelously, and although his inside-the-20 rate was not great, much of that was due to the Packers’ offense sputtering out or going three-and-out deep within their own territory.
The Packers certainly appear to have found a long-term solution at punter. Expect Vogel to stick around for several years.
How acquired: Street free agent signing
Contract: One year, $465,000
The Packers brought Pepper in last offseason, then released him after rookie minicamp. He returned to the team after Brett Goode’s injury forced him out of the lineup, but he had at least one bad snap and a foot injury in practice put Pepper on injured reserve.
How acquired: Street free agent signing (twice)
Contract: One year, $900,000
An unrestricted free agent in 2017, the Packers’ veteran long-snapper was without a job until August, when he returned for the first of a pair of stints with the team. First he took Derek Hart’s place in training camp. Then, after being waived with an injury settlement and seeing the Packers go through Pepper and Hart for several weeks, he re-signed with the team in November following the completion of his settlement term and snapped accurately once again.