What P Jacob Schum's Release Means for Packers, Justin Vogel

In a surprise move on Thursday, the Packers released punter Jacob Schum.

Schum was Green Bay’s punter for the 2016 season. The Packers claimed him off of waivers from the Buccaneers before last year's final preseason game.

After graduating from the University of Buffalo in 2011, he waited two years for his NFL career to begin. He signed with the Browns in 2013, and spent time on both the Buccaneers’ and Jets’ practice squads before earning the starting job in Tampa Bay in 2015. If he continues his NFL career, Schum will be playing on his fifth NFL team.

The Packers used Schum’s roster spot to sign wide receiver Colby Pearson from BYU, a college teammate of quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams.

Rookie punter Justin Vogel is now the team’s lone punter on the roster.

Back injury may explain the release’s odd timing

June is not a usual time to make roster moves, especially a move involving a player who played a role last season. Reporters who cover the Packers were surprised by the timing of the release:

However, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky is reporting his release is injury-related. Schum missed last week’s OTA practices with a back injury.

The release is a small departure from general manager Ted Thompson’s usual strategy with kickers and punters. Thompson and the Packers have historically been extremely patient with their special teams. When Mason Crosby made only 63% of his field goals in 2012, the Packers stood beside their veteran kicker. Crosby has since recovered and been one of the game’s finest kickers.

It’s evident the Packers did not see the same long-term potential in Schum that they have in Crosby.

Schum was a replacement-level punter

Punter carries the rare distinction of being both quite important and quite expendable.

The Packers chose to claim Schum and move on from six-year veteran Tim Masthay because Schum’s punts spent longer in the air before landing (commonly called “hang time”). Schum’s average hang time last season on 67 punts was 4.25 seconds, better than Masthay’s 4.09 in 2015.

Besides hang time, Schum was below-average. He ranked 27th in gross average, 24th in net average, 19th for punts inside the 20 yard line and 18th in touchback rate. He did, however, lead the league in one category – opponents returned the lowest percentage of his punts.  

What’s behind door number two?

For the Packers to be comfortable releasing their starting punter this early in training camp, it’s likely they feel confident in undrafted rookie free agent Justin Vogel.

Vogel punted for three seasons for Miami (FL) after transferring from the University of Florida. In 183 career punts, he’s averaged 43 yards per punt – precisely what Schum averaged in 2016.

His parents each bring perfect ingredients from their pasts that point towards him having a successful career as an NFL punter.

At 6-4, 210, Vogel is the son of Paul Vogel, a hard-nosed middle linebacker who helped lead South Carolina to be ranked as high as number two in the nation in the mid-1980’s. His mother Susan is a former classical ballerina for the Florida Ballet Theater and spent time as a cheerleader for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.