Bulaga, Crosby, Martinez Lead Packers’ Free Agents
GREEN BAY, Wis. – For the first time in his 13-year career, Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby is scheduled to be a free agent.
Since his infamous five-miss game at Detroit in Week 5 of the 2018 season, he’s been almost automatic. He’s made 41-of-45 field-goal attempts and 72-of-73 extra-point tries for a cumulative 113-of-118 accuracy. That’s five missed kicks compared to three game-winning field goals.
The 35-year-old said the contract wasn’t on his mind during the regular season.
“Haven’t really thought about it,” Crosby said before cleaning out his locker on Monday. “We’ll go through that process here in the next few weeks and see where the chips fall. I’ve been here for 13 years and have a great relationship with this organization and everyone upstairs. I’m hopeful. It’s hard when the season ends and all these things start becoming real. You’ve got to process through all of that.”
According to OverTheCap.com, the Packers are set to have 15 unrestricted free agents. The key dates along the way: March 10 is the deadline to use franchise and transition tags, March 16-18 is the so-called legal tampering period, and free agents officially can sign with other teams beginning at 3 p.m. (Central) on March 18.
The list from OTC:
RB Tyler Ervin: A late-season addition, Ervin breathed life into Green Bay’s horrendous return units by averaging 26.7 yards on kickoff returns and 9.6 yards on punt returns. He even saw some action on offense, where his speed had to be accounted for by defenses.
FB Danny Vitale: After a strong offseason and training camp, it’s a surprise he played only 170 snaps in 15 games. He caught seven passes for 97 yards, including only one in the final nine games. He’s a good fit for coach Matt LaFleur’s offense. He was third on the team in special-teams snaps.
WR Geronimo Allison: Allison signed a one-year, $2.8 million contract after some promising play the previous two seasons. However, he caught 34 passes for 287 yards. Of 80 receivers who were targeted at least 50 times, he ranked 79th with 8.44 yards per reception and 0.68 yards per target.
WR Ryan Grant: With Davante Adams’ out with a toe injury, the Packers added Grant on Oct. 16. He didn’t play a single snap yet somehow stayed on the roster.
RT Bryan Bulaga: The days when the left tackle was responsible for the opponent’s No. 1 pass rusher are long gone. Bulaga was tremendous in facing a long list of top pass rushers. First of all, he started all 16 regular-season games for the second time in his 10-year career and played 83.3 percent of the snaps. Of 57 offensive tackles to play at least half of the offensive snaps, he ranked 17th in ProFootballFocus.com’s pass-blocking efficiency, which measures sacks, hits and hurries per pass-rushing snap. He’ll turn 31 a few days after the start of free agency. By standard of play this year, he’s worthy of a big contract. By age and injury history, how will he be judged by the other 31 teams?
OT Jared Veldheer: Veldheer stepped out of retirement and stepped onto a playoff roster. He was superb in replacing Bulaga at Detroit (concussion) and the playoff game against Seattle (illness). Without Veldheer, there might not have been an NFC Championship Game appearance. On Monday, he said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to play again next year but he thoroughly enjoyed his time with the Packers.
OT Jason Spriggs: A second-round pick in 2016, Spriggs was a major disappointment during his first three seasons and spent all of this year on injured reserve. In 2018, he started two games and played extensively in three others. According to STATS, he gave up 2.5 sacks and was guilty of seven penalties in those games.
TE: Marcedes Lewis: Lewis went from afterthought under Mike McCarthy to playing close to half the snaps this season under LaFleur. A solid blocker, mentor and leader, he’d like to return. “My rep count went up to the mid-30s towards half the season. It was really dope. I’d love to come back.” He’ll turn 36 in May.
ILB Blake Martinez: Martinez finished first or second in the NFL in tackles each of the past three seasons. The game is changing rapidly, and those changes have not been kind to players with his skill-set. Then again, inside linebacker is arguably the team’s weakest position. It’s not as if there’s a better option waiting in the wings, and the elite players usually go in the top 10 picks and not fall to No. 30. His will be a fascinating free agency.
ILB B.J. Goodson: Goodson was acquired after Oren Burks was injured in training camp and played mostly on running downs. He hit hard and was a sure tackler. Goodson played 39 snaps against the 49ers but struggled with their speed.
OLB Kyler Fackrell: After a shocking season of 10.5 sacks last season, general manager Brian Gutekunst signed Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith and drafted Rashan Gary. Fackrell averaged 26 snaps per game – about 13 less per game. He recorded just one sack this season and added another against the 49ers.
CB Tramon Williams: The oldest defensive back in the NFL played well enough to earn one All-Pro vote. Williams played mostly from the slot but showed his versatility by playing at cornerback when needed. Of 39 corners to play at least 150 coverage snaps from the slot, Williams ranked fourth with 14.3 snaps per reception, according to PFF. Williams is ageless, impervious to injury and a willing mentor.
S Ibraheim Campbell: Campbell’s return from last year’s torn ACL was a big reason for the defense’s improvement down the stretch. Most of his 181 regular-season snaps came at linebacker. His 13 tackles in six games don’t tell the story. As defensive coordinator Mike Pettine liked to say, Campbell stuffed the sheet with winning grades rather than stats.
S Will Redmond: Redmond played 271 snaps – 169 vs. Dallas, Detroit and Oakland but zero during the final seven games of the regular season. Thrust into action due to injuries against San Francisco, he missed two tackles.
K Mason Crosby: Among kickers with at least 20 field-goal attempts, Crosby ranked fifth with 91.7 percent accuracy. That was the best mark of his career. If Gutekunst needs a reminder on the importance of a kicker who knows how to deal with the cold, he need only look a few hours south to Chicago.