No, The Packers Shouldn't Cut Mason Crosby

It’s the offseason, so there are going to be some dumb posts speculating about guys who could be released for cap savings or some other reason.

Look, I get that. It’s a long offseason and there’s a lot of space that needs to be filled with #content and talking about guys who could get cut is a good way to rake in a few clicks. Usually, these articles aren’t worth responding to, but one was so hilariously silly that I think it merits a response.

SB Nation’s Christian D’Andrea’s piece today on seven NFL players who could be surprising cuts did include one genuine surprise: Mason Crosby. Of all the players on the Packers who could be legitimate cap casualties (Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, and Jordy Nelson spring to mind), D’Andrea picked Crosby.

“The Packers wouldn’t stand to save much by releasing Crosby, but a new regime looking to make changes after Ted Thompson was relieved of GM duties could single out Crosby, whose accuracy dipped this past season,” he writes. “While never a great long range kicker, he’s made only two field goals from 50+ yards the last two seasons.”

To say nothing of the premise (the Packers should cut guys because they just might want to make changes, you guys!), citing Crosby’s declining accuracy is just plainly stupid.

Crosby’s accuracy numbers look low for 2017 because he attempted a career low 19 field goals, converting 15. Though often misused as a complaint about stats, this is a classic example of a small sample size being an issue. Crosby’s accuracy numbers are disproportionately affected by his small number of attempts.

To that end, at least two attempts from Crosby went awry this past season because of issues with his long snapper. Assuming Crosby makes those kicks without those issues, his conversion rate jumps all the way from 78.9% to 89.4%.

Then there’s the issue of Crosby’s lack of long range production. From 2013 through last season, Crosby attempted 21 kicks from 50+ yards, making 14. 67% isn’t outstanding, but there’s more to this story.

When you look at Crosby’s misses, it actually looks like he’s a very good to potentially great kicker from 50+. Here’s each of his seven misses from that range since 2013:

  • 2013 - 53 yards at Philadelphia (November)
  • 2014 - 50 yards in Green Bay (November)
  • 2014 - 53 yards in Buffalo (blocked)
  • 2015 - 52 yards in Green Bay (November)
  • 2016 - 51 yards in Green Bay (December)
  • 2017 - 57 yards in Pittsburgh (where no one has ever made a kick of more than 54 yards)
  • 2017 - 59 yards at the end of a half in Green Bay

To sum up, that’s four misses kicking outdoors in cold weather, a blocked kick, and two kicks where nobody would reasonably consider him to have a great shot at converting to begin with. If that’s what gets you classified as “never a great long range kicker,” I’m sure the Packers would be happy enough to keep Crosby around.

Again, these pieces are going to happen. It’s the offseason. But as a collective of NFL media, we can do better than this.