The Green Bay Packers have found themselves a new punter.
According to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic, the Packers traded a 2023 sixth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for fourth-year punter Corey Bojorquez and a 2023 seventh-round pick on August 31, a deal that would appear to mark the end of JK Scott’s run as Green Bay’s starter.
The Rams had brought in Bojorquez earlier in the 2021 offseason to compete with long-standing starter Johnny Hekker after Bojorquez spent his first three seasons with the Buffalo Bills. While competition raged on all summer and the decision went down to the wire, the trade with the Packers solidifies Hekker as the Rams’ starter for a 10th consecutive season.
Bojorquez was first in yards per punt (50.8) and fifth in net punt average (44) during the 2020 season, proving to be one of the best punters in the league. The Bills, however, declined to tender him as a restricted free agent and instead signed Matt Haack to a three-year deal to replace him. During his 2021 preseason appearances with the Rams, Bojorquez punted seven times for a gross average of 51.8 yards with four of those punts pinned inside the 20-yard line.
While Scott remained on the Packers’ roster following the 4 p.m. ET cutdown deadline for 53-man rosters on Tuesday, Bojorquez’s arrival almost certainly signals the end of his tenure with the team. The Packers’ 2018 fifth-round pick has struggled with consistency over the past few seasons, finishing 2020 with the 22nd-most yards per punt (44.5) and one of the worst net averages among qualifying NFL punters (37.8).
Update (5:02 p.m. ET): The Packers did not have Scott on their initial 53-man roster when it was revealed on Tuesday afternoon. The roster count was actually at 52 with a spot open for Bojorquez once he arrives in Green Bay and passes his physical.
The latest Packers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Packers newsletter here!
Scott Ousted Before End of Contract
The Packers haven’t tried to conceal their doubts about Scott throughout the 2021 offseason. The day after their loss in the NFC Championship Game on January 24, they signed backup punter and practice-squad player Ryan Winslow to their offseason roster with intentions of having him compete with Scott for the starting job in 2021. New special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton was also clear that Scott and long snapper Hunter Bradley had their backs “against the wall” during his introductory press conference in March.
“I call the room where we are the ‘Truth Room,’ so we’re going to tell the truth,” Drayton said on March 2. “Some things (we’ve talked about) I cannot say here, but they both know that they have to be more consistent in the things that we need them to do to be successful. They have a prescription that we’ve written for them to work on. They also have their own personal, what I call, kick doctors or specialist doctors that they’re working with who I’ve fostered a relationship with. They’re getting better and they will be better, and they understand that their backs are against the wall.”
The Packers, however, didn’t give it long before deciding on their punting battle. After Scott and Winslow each punted three times in their preseason opener against the Houston Texans on August 14 — with Winslow actually averaging a slightly better average of 49 yards per punt to 47.3 yards — Winslow was cut loose on August 16 in a move that seemingly declared Scott the winner.
Unfortunately for Scott, the inconsistencies reared their head again in their next preseason game. Against the New York Jets, Scott ripped four punts for an average of 40.8 yards with one of them sailing out of bounds after 21 yards and giving the Jets the ball at the 50-yard line. He also attempted just one during their preseason finale in Buffalo, booting it 56 yards to the Bills’ 3-yard line but seeing it returned up to the 21 after the Packers’ return coverage could make a stop.
Could Packers Also Add a New Long Snapper?
If Scott is being shown the door, there’s a decent chance the Packers are also looking to do the same thing with long snapper Hunter Bradley. Much like Scott, Bradley has been looking to redeem himself after a bad campaign in 2020 and entered the offseason with competition for his starting job from free-agent signing Joe Fortunato, but things were looking good for him once the Packers cut loose Fortunato after just a week of camp on August 5.
Bradley’s consistency has been a concern, though. According to multiple beat reporters, Bradley had some down-the-stretch struggles at camp that revived doubts about his viability, but Packers head coach Matt LaFleur still seemed optimistic about Bradley when speaking with reporters on August 29 ahead of the initial 53-man cutdown deadline.
“Hunter’s done a good job,” LaFleur said. “There’s (been) moments of inconsistency, but certainly he’s got a lot of experience and I think he’s gotten better and better. We do feel pretty confident with him in terms of we know what we’re going to get. Again, it’s just challenging him to be more consistent on a daily basis.”