Mason Crosby will be the Green Bay Packers’ placekicker for the 13th straight season. The team reportedly released Sam Ficken today, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. Ficken had a solid preseason by most accounts, and with Crosby getting a bit long in the tooth, his position also figures to get less solid every season. However, while Ficken was fine, it likely would have taken something truly special to unseat the reliable, if unspectacular Crosby.
Ficken is a Penn State product who excelled as a senior, and at one point in 2012 kicked a memorable overtime field goal to defeat Wisconsin in overtime, but his college career was riddled with inconsistency. As a professional he’s mainly served as a backup for the Rams, making a few spot starts for an injured Greg Zuerlein. It will be interesting to see if he draws any interest from Chicago as they are still seeking a reliable replacement for Cody Parkey, and seem less than enamored with Eddie Pineiro.
Chicago’s experience in the post-Robbie Gould era may have been on the mind of Matt LaFleur and Brian Gutekunst in deciding to keep Crosby around for another season. He’s hardly the NFL’s best kicker, but his performance is predictable from year to year, and he has experience kicking in one of the NFL’s toughest environments. That said, Crosby’s field goal percentage of 81% last season ranked just 23rd, and it was actually an improvement from a sub-80% 2017 effort. If the NFL hadn’t changed the rules around kickoffs over the last few seasons, it is entirely possible that the Packers would have moved on as his leg strength, never great to begin with, has declined noticeably. But for one more season at least, the lovable veteran is secure.
Per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Crosby’s contract was not restructured or extended. He will enter the final season of his contract making $3.2 million plus potential bonuses.