Who, exactly, is Joe Fortunato? No, not this Joe Fortunato, who was a Chicago Bears linebacker, a three-time All-Pro, and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-1950s team. Instead, the Green Bay Packers signed a long snapper by the same name on Wednesday, adding some competition to the roster at a less-than-exciting but still-important position on the roster.
The Packers announced Fortunato’s addition this afternoon, noting that he has spent time with the Indianapolis Colts in 2017 and the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. It appears that Fortunato was out of football in between those stints in the NFL, which followed a college football career at the University of Delaware that concluded after the 2015 season.
While there is little to know about Fortunato for now, his presence means that the Packers now have two players on their roster at each of the three major specialist positions. Mason Crosby, JK Scott, and Hunter Bradley remain the holdovers at kicker, punter, and long snapper, respectively, but JJ Molson, Ryan Winslow, and now Fortunato will likely push those players in the offseason and training camp.
While Crosby’s job is likely safe for the upcoming season — he was perfect on field goals in 2020 and the team reportedly restructured his contract recently — the other two specialists are not. Scott and Bradley were both members of Brian Gutekunst’s first NFL Draft class as general manager of the Packers, but both had inconsistent 2020 campaigns. Indeed, new special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton noted a few weeks ago that consistency was an issue for those players, and that “their backs are against the wall.”
While the team signed Winslow to the practice squad late in the season and kept him in Green Bay on a reserve/futures contract, Fortunato now enters as Bradley’s challenger. With no accrued seasons of NFL experience, his contract will count for the rookie minimum and therefore will not affect the Packers’ salary cap under the offseason Top 51 rule.