GREEN BAY, Wis. – With the 2022 NFL Draft a little more than two weeks away, the Green Bay Packers have more kickers under contract (three) than offensive tackles (one).
The headliner is veteran Mason Crosby, who missed two field goals in 2019 and zero in 2020 but nine in 2021. Crosby, who will turn 38 just before the season kicks off, ranks 14th in NFL history in scoring and 17th in field goals.
The second is JJ Molson, an undrafted free agent in 2020 who spent all of 2021 on Green Bay’s practice squad. He’s got a big leg, as evidenced by the 60-yarder he made during training camp.
The third is Dominik Eberle, an undrafted free agent in 2020 who spent his rookie season working with new Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia on the Raiders’ practice squad. He made a 51-yard field goal during a late-season appearance with the Texans last year.
So, what is Bisaccia’s plan?
“Just to kind of see who’s who and what’s what,” he said during his first meeting with reporters on Tuesday.
Bisaccia said he’s had three kickers on a roster at previous stops, but he expects that group to be pared back to two for training camp. That means the kicking battle will start with organized team activities in May.
“I’d like to see all three before we make a decision,” Bisaccia said.
Scroll to Continue
Just before the Scouting Combine and one day after signing Eberle, general manager Brian Gutekunst was asked whether the addition of a third kicker meant Crosby had attempted his last kick for the Packers?
“Oh, no, no no,” Gutekunst said. “No, no, no.”
Gutekunst chalked up Crosby’s problems in 2021 to the problems on special teams as a whole that Bisaccia has been charged with fixing. At the end of training camp, Gutekunst acquired punter Corey Bojorquez from the Rams, meaning a late change at holder. At midseason, Gutekunst released long snapper Hunter Bradley and replaced him with Steven Wirtel. There were continual issues with protection, starting with Crosby’s game-winning field goal at San Francisco in Week 3 and continuing with the killer block just before halftime of the playoff loss to San Francisco.
“Obviously, Mason had to adjust to a lot of the things that were happening with our special teams unit and the snappers and the new punter and holder,” Gutekunst said. “With those moving parts, he had to adjust and I thought he did a really nice job toward the end of the year. We’re in that offseason period where we get a chance to look at a lot of guys. ”
On Tuesday, Bisaccia noted that he coached Crosby at the Senior Bowl before the 2007 draft.
“He’s had a hell of a career,” Bisaccia said. “The one good thing I know about Crosby is that he’s come back from a down year to play really well. I’m excited about being around him, learning from him, seeing what his strengths are and where we can go forward and keep improving. ”
Eberle’s time with Bisaccia makes him an interesting challenger. The Packers wouldn’t have signed him had Bisaccia not seen enough to be intrigued. During his senior season at Utah State, he made 21-of-24 field goals including four from 50-plus yards.
“Das Boot,” as he’s called, was a walk-on at Utah State who paid the bills by working as a waiter until being put on scholarship.
“At any time, I’m ready to go out on the field, kick, and do what I love,” Eberle said. “At the same time, I know that I’m in a position to help the next generation of Germans fulfill their goals of football, and I covet the role of being a spokesperson for football in Germany. I’d cherish any role of growing the sport back home when it’s all said and done for me, but for now, I love to kick. I’m prepared to kick. I’m ready to kick. ”