After a dismal 2012 season, the Green Bay Packers tore up Mason Crosby’s contract, forcing him to take a pay cut and fend off a challenger for the first time since his rookie year of 2007.
Crosby responded in flying colors. Crosby converted 89.2 percent of his field-goal attempts in 2013, 81.8 percent in 2014 and 85.7 percent in 2015. On Wednesday, just a week before the start of the free-agent signing period, the Packers rewarded Crosby with a four-year contract.
“Man, they’re somewhat similar of motivation to continue to be successful and continue to work hard,” Crosby said in the Packers’ locker room on Wednesday. “That was obviously a different situation – not necessarily back against the wall but, OK, I knew what I needed to do. I have that same mind-set here. I feel so thankful and so happy to be part of this organization again for another four years and continue that run that we’ve had. With that comes that responsibility and that motivation that I want to keep working hard and do something better next year than I have in the past. That’s the mind-set I’m taking forward. It’s exciting.”
Crosby never will be recognized as one of the top kickers in the NFL. That’s partially a byproduct of playing at Lambeau Field rather than for a warm-climate or dome team, which has impacted him statistically. This past season, among kickers who attempted at least 24 field goals, he tied for 14th with 85.7 percent marksmanship. Over the past three seasons, 20 kickers have attempted at least 70 field goals. Crosby ranks 12th in that group with 85.7 percent accuracy. He also doesn’t have much of a history of making clutch kicks. In fairness, he hasn’t had many opportunities on a team that wins so often by blowout, though he badly mishit a 52-yarder that would have beaten Detroit in November.
Crosby, however, is now recognized as one of the top kickers based on pay, with his four-year, $16.1 million deal equating to $4.025 million per season – third-most among kickers.
“I just feel so blessed to be able to play this game,” Crosby said. “I was talking to a school down in my hometown (of Georgetown, Texas), and I was like, I get to go into an NFL stadium for my job and play a game, and I get paid well for it. So, I look at that and I look at the guys around me that I’m in there with. I think this deal, they’re saying I’m the third-highest at this point, and I feel like it’s been nine years, a lot of hard work, a lot of different things. Statistically, it’s tough to kick here in Green Bay at times, but the team saw that value and I’m happy to do it.”
Crosby could have tested the market – and potentially hauled in a bigger contract – had he waited for free agency. He also could have gotten out of the wind, cold and snow of Green Bay and set his sights on someplace that’s either warm or has a roof. Instead, he stuck with the familiar – if sometimes uncomfortable – surroundings, a winning franchise and his friends. He also stuck with the team that could have thrown him overboard after he made a league-worst 63.6 percent of his field-goal attempts in 2012.
“That relationship is all a part of it, too,” he said. “There’s never going to be another Green Bay as far as a relationship that I have with an organization. They stuck by me in that season. We re-worked the contract to protect them but also give me a chance to earn it back and work through it. My whole career here has been about that – mutual respect and working together – and that’s what this place is all about. What’s best for this team? How can we be successful? How can we put our best stuff on the field? That year, I still always look at as, it was a negative while it was happening, it was not a good time, but such a positive in the long run because of all of those things – the relationships that I was able to form through that and just kind of through the adversity I think we came together a little bit more as far as that bond that I have with the Packers. It’s a special place, and I do think through that there’s no other place that I wanted to be.”
Selected by the Packers as the third of three choices in the sixth round of the 2007 draft, Crosby ranks No. 1 in franchise history in points (1,145), field goals (236) and 50-yard field goals (27). He ranks No. 2 in NFL history for the most points in his first nine seasons, trailing only New England’s Stephen Gostkowski (1,179). In 144 regular-season games, Crosby has connected on 236-of-296 field goals (79.7 percent); in 15 postseason games, he’s hit 23-of-25 attempts (92.0 percent), including an NFL postseason-record 20 in a row dating to the 2010 playoffs.
This past season, Crosby was one of five full-time kickers who didn't miss an extra point from the new distance. Crosby, who will turn 32 just before the 2016 season-opener, will try to build on that success.
“I think we’re building something great, as we have been my whole nine years, and these next four years are going to be pretty exciting.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.