New England's Adam Vinatieri appears headed to Dallas, which leaves only a few reliable kickers on the free agent market - Indianapolis' Mike Vanderjagt and Minnesota's Paul Edinger. Of the two, signing Vanderjagt, though it will cost the Packers some money, makes the most sense. But the Packers have money to spend and a challenging environment for any kicker. So why not get a good one?
Fortunately, the Packers and the agent for Vanderjagt, are talking about a possible contract, according to reports. If Green Bay is unable to sign him, they'll probably make a push for Edinger, who has kicked for the Bears prior to his stint in Minnesota last season. He is a proven cold-weather kicker, though, Vanderjagt is much better.
Though he missed badly from 46 yards out, perhaps the biggest field goal attempt of his career, in the Colts' 21-18 divisional playoff loss to Pittsburgh, Vanderjagt can pick up where Longwell left off with the Packers.
Entering his ninth season, Vanderjagt has been a staple of fantasy football league teams everywhere for most of his NFL career. The Canadian has made 217 of 248 field-goal attempts for 87.5%, and is the most accurate kicker in NFL history.
The knock against Vanderjagt is that he'll turn 36 on March 24 and he hasn't kicked off for the Colts for a number of seasons because he lacks hang time. He also can be outspoken and has rubbed some teammates, like Peyton Manning, and club officials the wrong way.
Vanderjagt has had the luxury of kicking mainly indoors, but he was just as good in outdoor games last year as indoor. He was 11 of 12 (91.7%) FG attempts outdoors in 2005 compared to 12 of 13 (92.3%) indoors.
It's hard to blame Longwell for leaving Green Bay. The Vikings offered him a deal too good to pass up ($10 million over five years with a $3 million bonus) and a chance to kick indoors for most of his games. He now has a legitimate chance of getting named to the Pro Bowl, an honor that has eluded him in Green Bay as well as every other kicker that has set foot for the Packers on the frozen tundra.
If the Packers can sign a veteran like Vanderjagt for less than what the Vikings are paying Longwell, it will be a free agency victory of sorts, and give the Packers a kicker they can count on.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.