Everyone does player grades.
Ours are different.
We do ours on a salary-cap curve. After all, the salary cap largely determines long-term success in the NFL. Players with big-money contracts must be big-time performers. Those highly paid players must be supplemented by several small-budget but high-production players.
With that, we conclude this series with the specialists. Salary comparisons are from OverTheCap.com.
K Mason Crosby
2016 cap: $2.4 million (14th at position)
Crosby, the franchise’s career scoring leader, ranks second in NFL history with 1,267 points through his first 10 seasons. His 10th season was one of his best. He made 26-of-30 attempts, with that 86.7 percent success rate trailing only his 89.2 percent in 2013. Among kickers with at least 16 attempts this season, Crosby ranked ninth in accuracy. The highlight: His pair of 50-plus-yard field goals to beat Dallas in the divisional playoffs. He also beat Chicago with a 32-yarder as time expired. The lowlight: His miss on the opening drive at Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game. Crosby also missed three extra points after being one of only five kickers to be perfect from the 33-yard distance in 2015. He finished 19th in extra-point percentage at 93.6. Crosby attempted a career-low two kicks from 50-plus yards during the regular season, going 1-of-2. On kickoffs, Crosby ranked 24th in touchback percentage and 19th on percentage of kickoffs that pinned the opponent inside the 20-yard line. All in all, that’s a pretty good return on investment for a kicker who ranked about in the middle of the cap pack.
P Jacob Schum
2016 cap: $525,000 (27th at position)
In 2015, Tim Masthay once again set the franchise record for net punting average (40.2 yards), giving him the top five spots on the chart and a Packers-best career net of 38.7 yards. In a bit of a surprise at the end of training camp, GM Ted Thompson released Masthay, due in part to a poor performance in the playoff loss at Arizona. Thompson replaced Masthay with Jacob Schum. The switcheroo didn’t work out too badly. Schum’s net average of 39.1 yards, which ranked 24th, was a yard worse than Masthay’s from 2015 but slightly better than Masthay’s career mark. Down the stretch, Schum hit his stride. Because of the climate, a Packers punter will never wow anyone with his stats. But Schum won the one-on-one net-punt matchup in eight of the final 11 games (including playoffs). His 43.5-yard net average in the playoffs ranks as the second-best single postseason in team annals. Critically, opponents returned 28.6 percent of his punts, the lowest rate in the league. Schum’s cap hit, by the way, was just more than $1 million less than Masthay’s and among the cheapest in the league. Could the Packers do better? Probably. But he did what he was asked to do and did it well.
LS Brett Goode
2016 cap: $600,000 (NA at position)
With the Packers in need of a snapper, they brought back Goode, who went down with a torn ACL in December 2015. It was typical Goode — so consistent that he became an afterthought. Goode never was a great athlete to begin with, so being 32 and coming off a knee injury didn’t help. He had no tackles in the regular season but did have one in the playoffs. Goode had five tackles in 2010 but only one in 2011, one in 2012, one in 2013, zero in 2014 and zero in 2015 and zero again in 2016. Goode presumably will return in 2017 but his challenger is in place with Taybor Pepper, who snapped at Michigan State from 2012 through 2015. and had 10 tackles during that span.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.